Publication Date

October 1, 1989

Perspectives Section

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my dismay at a statement in the lead article [“Running Out of Time,” by David Gerber and Mary Sheila McMahon] in the March 1989 issue of Perspectives. In the midst of a discussion about the American history survey course, the authors write (on page 20), “Some have conjured up an epidemic of historical ignorance among our youth and have used this to advance a particular politico-agenda which is based on a demand not for more history, but for more of a brand of nationalist history.” Perhaps it may please the authors to consider the survey by the National Assessment of Educational Progress to be invalid or nothing more than a politically slanted conjuring up of useless data, but respon­sible voices within the historical profession have taken the results of the assessment seriously. I refer to the Bradley Commission, which unanimously recom­mended an increase in the time for history, and not “a particular politico-cultural agenda.” The recommen­dations of the Bradley Commission received the endorsement of both the American Historical Associa­tion and the Organization of American Historians.

This canard is also expressed in an article in a 1989 issue of the Journal of American History by a professor at the same institution as those who wrote the article in the March 1989 Perspectives. This view may be the new orthodoxy at SUNY Buffalo. How­ever, it is simply untrue.

Diane Ravitch
Adjunct Professor of History and Education
Teachers College, Columbia University