Pop quiz: Which description best fits Thomas Jefferson?
A. Founding Father; third president of the United States elected in 1800; and author of the Declaration of Independence, adopted in 1776.
B. Statesman, author, inventor, architect, but also slaveholder and member of the landowning elite.
The answer depends on whom you are asking.
History students are more likely to answer A. Social studies students would gravitate toward B.
The hypothetical test question illustrates two approaches that are fighting for prominence in schools around the country. Traditional history classes would pay more attention to Jefferson's leadership, carefully …