A new, nationwide poll revealed 71% of Americans believe their children are not receiving an honest picture of their country’s history through education, while only 13% believe they are and nearly 16% aren’t sure. The discontent is shared by various political parties and ethnicities, but it was particularly high among Asians; more than 91% said their children are not receiving an honest look at history.
The poll by the Trafalgar Group, commissioned by the Jack Miller Center, also found that more than 92% of Americans want their children to receive an honest education about the country’s historical figures, even if their views don’t align with modern day values. That includes learning about the figure’s achievements that helped shape America, despite mistakes they may have made, in what has been described as a “warts and all approach.”
The poll was released as many in American society are questioning how to teach, or whether to teach, about important figures in U.S. history. An opinion article in the Washington Post once called on George Washington University to change its name. The San Francisco School Board voted to remove the names of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln from their namesake schools.
In particular, the Founding Fathers’ slave ownership has been heavily scrutinized. Washington both inherited and purchased slaves. He ultimately freed them in his last will and testament. Thomas Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves in his life, including some who served him as he wrote the Declaration of Independence, which states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The poll found only 7.5% of Americans want figures like that to be avoided or minimized in K-12 education.
A large number of respondents said their students cannot freely express themselves at school – 43% said no, their children cannot express themselves, 31% yes and 25% weren’t sure. Those who said no included a little over half of Republicans and nearly half of Black individuals surveyed.
Finally, the poll found parents are split nearly straight down the middle on which system of school they believe is best for their child. About 49% said there should be a funding system where parents direct per-student tax dollars to public, private or home schooling options, while about 51% said they preferred a public school system funded by taxpayer dollars that is available to everyone. Republicans were largely in favor of the former and Democrats the latter, but independents were as evenly split as the overall finding.