A bill to ban publicly-funded schools in Iowa from teaching the 1619 Project is gaining support from lawmakers as it becomes eligible for consideration by the state’s House Education Committee.
The 1619 Project was published in 2019 by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a journalist at the New York Times Magazine. It aims to reframe the way slavery and the contributions of Black Americans are presented.
The proposed legislation would ban schools, colleges and regents institutions from incorporating the project or “any similarly developed curriculum” in U.S. history classes, and would take away state aid from institutions that use it.
Lawmakers in other states, including Arkansas and Mississippi, have introduced similar bills and argue that the project misrepresents American history.
House Representative Skyler Wheeler, who sponsored the bill, said the project seeks to tear down America, not lift it up.
“It seeks to divide, not unify. It aims to distort facts, not merely teach them. It does so as leftist political propaganda masquerading as history,” Wheeler said Tuesday in a subcommittee hearing.
House Representative Ras Smith, a Democrat, disagreed.
“I’m the first Smith not born on the same plantation where my father was born, where his mother was born, where his grandmother was born,” said Smith, one of the few members of the Legislature who is Black. “America has that opportunity for diverse thought, rigorous debate, about what it means to be an American.”
ln Iowa, the Pulitzer Center identified at least 34 classrooms using them, including 16 high school, nine college, five elementary and four middle school classrooms.
Hannah-Jones, who is an Iowa native, called the moves to ban teaching from the project an embarrassment for Iowa’s public education system, and tweeted that whether you agree with it, the 1619 Project should be taught in publicly funded schools.