Mike Huckabee's 9/11 Attack on American Schools

Last week Mike Huckabee started a firestorm by releasing an "educational" video about the 9/11 attacks. The video is part of a library of educational materials planned by Huckabee's TimeCycle Academy.

The video has elicited a very strong reaction, mostly about Huckabee's company trying to "cash in" on 9/11, arguably one of the most sensitive events of recent history. Others argue whether a cartoon is the most dignified way to depict what happened. Missing from the controversy is a closer look at Huckabee's dismissive attitude toward how public schools teach history.

The TimeCycle website, learnourhistory.com, promises that:

When your kids or grandkids get their hands on the TimeCycle Academy videos, you’ll be amazed at how they‘re instantly pulled in to the stories. As they watch the history videos, they'll be learning about the major events and most influential people that shaped our great nation. And because they'll be having so much fun watching the zany characters in the TimeCycle Academy, they won’t even realize they’re learning!

It's almost too easy to be personally offended by "zany characters" telling me or my child what September 11th was like and what it means.  But if you look further, purported zaniness is not the most questionable thing about TimeCycle Academy. 

The first time you go to the company's website, Mike Huckabee appears to you in video form extolling himself as the savior of American history education. He says:

When it comes to learning American history our nation is facing an epidemic. Schools across the country have turned their backs on our children by distorting fact, imposing political biases, and changing the message behind the important lessons of our history.

Huckabee's solution is to replace one set of what he believes are biased and distorted facts with what he deems to be the correct ones.

In his video intro Huckabee resurrects a useless, well-trodden conservative attack at the straw man of American schools. To say that American schools, as an entity, have distorted facts and turned their backs on kids by not teaching them history is a cheap shot, a broad enough soundbyte to resonate without having any true meaning or bearing on reality.  In The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch offers an excellent explanation of just how contentious standard-setting (determing the "facts" and "skills" children should learn) in public school history classes has been.

History is a contentious subject, which is exactly why we should teach children that interpration, analysis and reasoning are important tools to employ when faced with the facts of any event. "Zany" characters, Huckabee included, would do us all a service by acknowledging that.