Am wishing you all well and would like—in my capacity as a most reliable reader of your precious publication—to forward this message which concerns itself with the article titled Mapping Representation.
Peradventure more than one side was considered on the question of mandating Ethnic Studies curricula in Californian public schools (and, by cultural extension, our own independent institution)—yet, from my analysis of the writing, but one viewpoint was included that did not support the proposal. Moreover, the opinion was not merely near the end of the article, yet also strategically placed right before the pro-heavy conclusion. Many a more casual onlooker onto your publication may (with frightful facility) fail to be exposed to any contradicting side at all to the crucial educational question. Indeed the writing on the whole did not even essaye to pretend a fair presentation of the issue, but rather suggested support for the option (at least) of an Ethnic Studies type class in both tone and evidence.
Thus, regardless of my stance on the question, your publication has already—and unjustly—favored one perspective.
I also happen to steadfastly support cultural pluralism. Public schools are responsible for encouraging independent thinking in the cohesive (and complicated) ideological heritage of our American Republic. Democracy does not have a skin color. One must only glance at any mainstream news paper to view our fellow world citizens today fight for the illustriously sobering achievements of the West, for which cause millions of individuals—of every imaginable appearance, creed, persuasion, et cetera—have sacrificed their lives. Us Americans—and particularly we who currently receive such a privileged education—have the moral responsibility to conserve the West’s ideological heritage.
Therefore, legitimizing Social Justice 101-type classes in the high school context is anathema to the ideals of our common political culture. Tribalism leads not to deeper empathy but, rather, its opposite: unabashed extremism. Sure, a GPA rise follows from requiring such a curriculum: the same would be true for elevating any coursework in Sociology to the level of the harder sciences. Any such material can be easily gleamed from flipping through National Geographic once in a while; the aforementioned magazine actually publishes regular, comprehensive, and informative articles on the sundry West-African conflicts, which were noted in your article as not being included in The World and Europe II. (That the class prepares Sophomores for the Advanced Placement European History Examination is no closed secret, either.) Europe is—and ought to be—the primary focus of historical study for at least two years in High School because the continent is not solely the birthplace of Western Civilization, but also of the Current World Order.
Additionally, I must clarify that—and this is my personal opinion—I do not believe the ancient Greeks to be inherently superior to the Mayas or the Tang Dynasty emperors or the Indus River Valley peoples or the Moundbuilders: Rather, I know that Plato is more influential to our Constitution (or the French Revolution’s Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme, or the Founding Charter of the United Nations) than was Mencius. I also know that we live on the Edge of Western Civilization in an age of unprecedented, globally intercommunicative coöperation—id est in a City, State, Country, and International Situation that are all profoundly undergirded by the history of the West. So, yes, I believe in reenergizing the Canon. Mandating Ethnic Studies classes would undermine the ideological cohesion in need of which America is more than ever.
Finally, I would like to add that I myself am exceedingly excited about the whole of world history. In very fact, I took the subject test in Ninth Grade for fun—not to mention my extensive reading. Actually, I am so interested in non-Western thought to the point where I am now planning to major in East Asian studies, specifically because of my interest in both Chinese (my fourth language) and Japanese (my second). However, am applying to Universities this fall which offer a robust Core Curriculum because I am also convinced that I need to further study the Western Canon.
The danger behind requiring any Ethnic Studies Coursework is not the creation of hyphenated Americans; every one of us already is one, for dozens of adjectives. The danger is that the role of the public schools would be shifted from fostering unity to validating Tribalism. We should of course celebrate diversity. In very deed, it is precisely because we are so diverse that we need to focus on our common ideological heritage, which belongs to nobody’s descendants in particular because its power derives from patriotic conviction.
Thank You All with my Distinctly Distinguishing Salutations—
George R. Grube