A bill that would defund public schools that use the New York Times 1619 Project in their history curriculum advanced Feb. 9.

House File 222’, sponsored by Republican Rep. Skyler Wheeler, was approved by its subcommittee and is eligible to be considered by the Iowa House Education Committee.

THE PROJECT

The 1619 Project was created by New York Times writer and investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and others from The New York Times Magazine. 

The project “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States‘ national narrative,” The New York Times published in 2019. 

Hannah-Jones has received both praise and criticism for her work. Her highest honor includes winning a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2020 for her effort in developing the project. However, after accepting the award, Princeton Historian Sean Wilentz and three other leading historians spoke out against her work. 

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FACING BUDGET CUTS

Wheeler’s bill claims the project, “attempts to deny or obfuscate the fundamental principles upon which the United States was founded.”

If the proposal is passed, schools would be punished for any use of the project, in whole or in part, when used to shape curriculum. If schools are found to be using the project as a basis for U.S. history lessons, district budgets would face cuts

Budgets would be “reduced by one one-hundred-eightieth for each day of the previous budget year for which the school district used school curriculum,” the bill says. 

“The 1619 Project seeks to tear down America, not lift her up,” Wheeler said. “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.”

SIMILAR MEASURES

This Iowan bill isn’t the only proposal regarding the 1619 Project. Arkansas, Mississippi and other states have similar bills in the works. 

Written ByAshley Grams

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