From Atlanta Black Star:
A charter school in Arizona has come under fire after it was revealed the school is using controversial books that suggest slavery was actually beneficial for African-Americans.
Despite the backlash, the school’s principal is defending the use of the texts in the classroom, claiming that the school is not purposefully trying to change the students’ religious and political views.
The school decided to make The 5,000 Year Leap and The Making of America required reading for senior students at Mesa-based Heritage Academy.
Cleon Skousen, a conservative author who has been known for his controversial faith-based political theories, wrote both books. Now one nonprofit organization wants the texts to be taken out of the curriculum.
The Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint to the state’s school board claiming that the academy should not be teaching “sexist, racist and anti-Semitic messages” to its students.
A law professor at the University of Baltimore, Garrett Epps, appeared surprised by the schools decision to use the books as he found Skousen’s accounts to be not only be racist, but also inaccurate.
“Skousen’s account of the growth and meaning of the Constitution is quite inaccurate,” he told The Arizona Republic in an email interview.
“Parts of his major textbook, The Making of America, present a systematically racist view of the Civil War,” Epps added. “A long description of slavery in the book claims that the state (of slavery) was beneficial to African-Americans and that Southern racism was caused by the ‘intrusion’ of Northern abolitionists and advocates of equality for the freed slaves.”
Not only does Epps believe the content of the controversial books is exposing students to “religious indoctrination,” but he is also concerned whether the students would be prepared for future learning.
According to Epps, “Any student taught from these materials in a public institution is being subjected to religious indoctrination” and “is also being crippled educationally and will be ill-prepared to take part in any serious program of instruction of American government and law.”
Earl Taylor, the school’s founder and principal, insists that using the texts is in the students’ best interest.
“Our purpose is not to convert students to different religious views,” Taylor told The Arizona Republic. “It is to show them that religion influenced what the founders did.”