In the May 14 Billings Gazette, I read the article, “Arntzen asks about antiracism” and darn near choked on my coffee. She has requested an opinion from the attorney general regarding the legality of a federal grant “American History and Civic Education” that requires recipients to incorporate teaching the history of systemic racism in the United States in the classroom. She stated this would cause division in our classrooms and communities, and endorsed the proposition that ignorance is bliss. The Office of Public Instruction then went on to state that the state of Montana was not and has not ever applied for this grant. Good grief.
First, some news for the superintendent: Montana has this year enacted laws to restrict access to the ballot, couched in words to the effect that these laws are crafted solely to protect the sanctity of the voting process. Balderdash. These laws will impact our citizens who live on reservations, without the means to drive the required distance to cast an in-person ballot, effectively denying them the right to vote. For the record, there has not been any proven voter fraud in the 2020 election in Montana, thus this new voting restriction law is aimed squarely at those the Republican majority does not want to vote. That is classic Jim Crow, otherwise known as systemic racism, and of course, Arntzen does not want that taught.
To be valid, history must be all encompassing, not only exploring the successes of a people, but also their failures. Today, in Germany, the holocaust is taught to prevent it from ever happening again. In Montana, it seems, we would rather have our students ignorant of the whole truth, and then perpetuate the ignorance into their adulthood. Who knows, they might one day be elected to legislative or executive office, just like the current crop of weeds in Helena.