Contentious Curricula: Afrocentrism and Creationism in American Public Schools

By Amy J. Binder | Go to book overview

Notes

Preface

1. From about 1990 to 1995, both academics and journalists wrote impassioned tracts warning that the country had become engulfed in “culture wars,” in a battle between “progressives” and “traditionalists” said to be shaping the lives of all citizens (see for example James Davison Hunter’s Culture Wars (New York: Basic Books, 1991), as well as William Bennett’s The Devaluing of America (New York: Summit Books, 1992); Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education: The Politics of Sex and Race on Campus (Toronto: Collier Macmillan, 1991); and Robert Bork’s Slouching towards Gomorrah (New York: Regan Books, 1996). By 1998, the disturbing cries had quieted somewhat when other social scientists demonstrated that the warnings had been exaggerated. For these critiques, see Rhys Williams’ edited volume called Cultural Wars in American Politics: Critical Reviews of a Popular Myth (New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1997); Paul DiMaggio, John Evans, and Bethany Bryson’s article “Have Americans’ Social Attitudes Become More Polarized?” American Journal of Sociology 102 (1996): 690–755; and for a more recent critique, Paul DiMaggio and Bethany Bryson’s “Public Attitudes towards Cultural Authority and Cultural Diversity in Higher Education and the Arts” in The Arts, of Democracy: The State, Civil Society, and Culture, ed. Casey Blake (Princeton: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2000).

2. The most celebrated Ebonics case, of course, occurred in Oakland, California, in December 1996, when the school board of that district voted to educate children in their “African American language,” in part to improve their fluency in Standard English.


Chapter One
Introduction to Afrocentrism and Creationism,
Challengers to Educational “Injustice”

1. David Tyack and Larry Cuban, Tinkering toward Utopia (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 4.

2. See Nicola Beisel’s description of the antivice movements made on behalf of students in the nineteenth century in Imperiled Innocents: Anthony Comstock and Family Reproduction in Victorian America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997). See, also, work that I have done previously, especially “Constructing Racial Rhetoric: Media Depictions of Harm in Heavy Metal and Rap Music,” American Sociological Review 58 (1993): 753–67, which compares the mass media’s warnings of the harm posed to children by rap and heavy metal. Scott Davies also draws attention to the strength of child-centered rhetoric in curricular reform efforts; see “The Changing Meaning of Progressive Pedagogy: Justifying School Reform in Three Eras,” unpublished paper, 2000.

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