I wanted to take the time to discuss a recent commentary from Peoria Unified School District governing board member Beverly Pingerelli.
You say we should not take on a new curriculum aimed at exploring “the experiences and perspectives of a diverse array of American groups and study concepts like identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, and culture.”
I know that it’s nice to stay inside your own little box Ms. Pingerelli, but your comments on such curriculum come across with much ignorance. America, as great as it is, was founded on principles of white supremacy, we stole and abused African and Native Americans. Shouldn’t students have a right to know about our country’s past?
Not even that, but you’re leaving the fate of this curriculum up to the adults in the community. Shouldn’t the students have the right to choose to take this elective and learn about their nation, in it’s full truth?
You state that, “students assume that the information they are provided is accurate, complete and unbiased,” and that to me is what this course is to these students.
Our history classes brush over the Chinese Exclusion Act and completely ignore the Tulsa Race Massacre. We barely even grace the complexity of the Civil Rights Movement, an event that only occurred less than a lifetime ago.
Rather than learn about and learn from our past, you’d rather shy away from it. You seem to be more afraid of being called racist than you are with the act and full history of racism in America. You are afraid of teens being in a brave space and trying to actively address their identity in a time where they need support for their identity and future.
You may not agree with many identities you may find in the community today, but like it or not they are there. And I think it’s time we give them a space and resources and guidance to help them figure who they are, and despite your thought of identity being “assigned to them,” no one is forcing a child to fit a certain mold except for you. You put identity in quotes as if it’s not something we all have. And with learning about our past, even the dark and scary racist parts, and learning about ourselves as individuals, we learn to love not only ourselves, but the people around us. We get to learn about more unique experiences and expand our worldview, making us more tolerant, not less.
Like you said, it’s your “responsibility to provide our students with the resources that empower them and help them build successful lives.”
Give them the appropriate resources that you say they need, like a teacher with the “expertise required.” I know there is money in the budget, you just have to allocate it correctly. Let the students decide what is best for them, to empower them and help them build successful lives.
Editor’s note: Brendan Van Horn is a Peoria resident.