McConnell backs bill to strip funding from schools that teach NYT's '1619 Project'

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Tom Cotton's proposal would tell local school boards what to do.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is co-sponsoring a bill that would strip federal funding from any school that teaches students about the New York Times' acclaimed project on the history of slavery in America. He has previously railed against federal control of education.

On Thursday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) re-introduced his legislation "to prohibit Federal funds from being made available to teach the 1619 Project curriculum in elementary schools and secondary schools."

His original co-sponsors include McConnell (R-KY) and Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn (TN), John Boozman (AR), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Thom Tillis (NC), and Tommy Tuberville (AL).

"We cannot continue teaching our children and our troops to believe America is an inherently evil and racist place," he tweeted.

Last July, Cotton filed a similar proposal — then dubbed the "Saving American History Act of 2020." In a press release at the time, he said it would bar any use of federal funds to teach about the 1619 Project in "K-12 schools or school districts" and penalize any that did by deeming them "ineligible for federal professional-development grants."

"The New York Times's 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded," he wrote. "Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage."

Only one colleague — Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who had been temporarily appointed to fill a vacant seat — signed on as a co-sponsor of last year's bill. Accused of racism as she sought election, Loeffler lost in a January runoff to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.

The "1619 Project," according to the Times, is an ongoing multimedia examination of the role slavery played in the United States before and after its founding. It was created by mostly Black contributors and looks at the 400-plus years since the first enslaved African people were brought to Virginia in 1619.

Parts of the project have been disputed by some historians. While the Times acknowledged some "episodes we might have overlooked," it did not deem corrections to be warranted.

But it also has received significant praise. Indeed the project's creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was awarded a 2020 Pulitzer Prize for commentary for her work. The board singled out her "sweeping, provocative and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America's story, prompting public conversation about the nation's founding and evolution." School systems in Buffalo, New York; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Wilmington, Delaware; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina adopted the project as part of their curriculum.

In the past, Cotton and McConnell have both been vocal critics of federal meddling in education, suggesting that curriculum should be left up to local school boards.

"States are supposed to be the leaders on core curriculum and decisions on how to best meet the needs of their students — not Washington bureaucrats," McConnell said in 2017, as he worked to overturn an Obama-era education regulation

“I’m glad to see Congress push back against this federal overreach," agreed Cotton. "Now states and local communities can decide how best to educate their children."

The refiling of Cotton's bill comes as congressional Republicans have been making attacks on anti-racism education a key part of their rhetoric and legislative agenda.

On Tuesday, Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter introduced a bill to prohibit any anti-racism training in the U.S. military. He said such a ban would "ensure our military members can focus on their mission, not the agenda of the radical Left."

On May 27, Rep. Brian Mast of Florida predicted that training solider about racism might get them killed. "The most dangerous thing for our military is wokeness," he told Fox News. "We have to keep politics out of the military or it's going to cost people's lives!"

And on May 7, Tennessee Rep. Mark Green and several GOP colleagues filed a bill to prevent any "critical race theory" training at military service academies.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.