LETTER: I’m an Aurora teacher, and I teach history, not propaganda

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EDITOR: I have been an educator for 10 years, I have an MA in history, and I teach 11th and 12th graders in various forms of history courses. These courses cannot be taught without teaching about race, class, gender, and oppression; that is the crux of a history class. To teach history without naming the oppressor and the oppressed is to outright lie.

A few weeks back, I tweeted about how I will continue to discuss race, class, and gender in my courses regardless of what policies people try to put forth. I made this tweet because I signed up to teach history, not to teach propaganda.

History is filled with events that can make us proud and it is also filled with events that make us very uncomfortable and feel shame. They paint a picture of how we got here today, who benefited most from those systems that were built, and who has been blocked from those benefits throughout history. One example of this is redlining. Redlining prevented BIPOC from buying housing while white people were allowed and even incentivized.

This allowed white people to accrue generational wealth while making it more difficult for BIPOC to do the same so, even when those policies were outlawed, the effects continued and can be seen today.

That is what is meant when we use the term institutional oppression and that is what is meant when teachers say they incorporate critical race theory in a high school setting. I personally do not care what it is called, this is just honest history.

It has been made clear to me, however, that people either do not fully understand these terms and our history or they do and they want it suppressed. Since making that tweet, I have had hundreds of strangers from around the country (but not a single parent of a student I have had) message me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They have called my work, and they have even found my personal phone number and messaged me there, all with similar messages:

  • “You should be fired”
  • “You’re racist”
  • “You hate white people”
  • “You teach white kids that they’re all racist”

And the list goes on. Conservative think tanks like the Manhattan Institute are patting themselves on the back for creating this outrage. Christopher Rufo, Senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said on Twitter, “As predicted, we have frozen the brand ‘critical race theory’ and driven up its negatives…” The outrage and spreading of intentional misinformation of what is and is not critical race theory and what is and is not being taught in schools is rampant and it is, without a doubt, political. I believe with every bone in my body that this outrage machine will be steered towards school boards and other state and local elections to get anti-public school candidates elected. This slow and steady effort to move toward privatization has been going on for over 30 years and this is just another tool in the privatization toolbox and another manifestation of racism and oppression.

In summation, I will not be bullied into lying to my students and I will continue to be an advocate for all of my students, the public education profession, and my community and I am ready for the fight against these privatizers that will be coming our way.

— Brian Lindstrom, an Aurora Public Schools social studies teacher, via [email protected]

 

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Dennis Lyon
2 months ago

Brian Lindstrom is the type teacher APS needs. Congrats to him for being strong and APS for supporting him.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Lyon

The type we ALL need.

Richard
Richard
2 months ago

History should indeed be taught. However, this should not include that slavery is unique to the United States or white people. It should not include nonsense like police are modern day slave patrols, and the direct descendents from them. It should not include a twisted idea about the 3/5 Compromise, which was not about dehumanizing black people, but reducing the power of slave states in congress.

Furthermore, everyone is an individual. There are many factors that make up our lives and situations, including generational wealth. Race is one factor. It is quite disingenuous to act as if all white people, solely because of their race, live some kind of charmed life where they receive some kind of extra boost in everything they do. Or that white people bear some kind of responsibility or guilt for the actions of others.

It would be quite racist and disgusting to tell black people they have to acknowledge their, “black criminality,” for the behavior of others whose only trait they share is the color of their skin.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
2 months ago

Good for you! You got it right. History should be taught exactly how it happened, without editorial comment, censorship or partisanship.

ImmovableLadder
ImmovableLadder
2 months ago

Hear hear.

Ginger
Ginger
2 months ago

I like to tell this teacher that redlining wasn’t used only for minorities, white peoples too had been redlined. Get your facts straight before you teach.

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
2 months ago

Here’s my beef with Brian, that’s not mentioned in his letter. He ran for Aurora City Council from Ward VI in our last election as a progressive with pure socialist tendencies as his platform. He seemed to pride himself to be a union organizer.

I must assume that he teaches history with a socialist, union praising slant. This is more scary to me than him taking offense about any racist type problems, especially if it’s US History he teaches.

Nathan Jacobson
Nathan Jacobson
2 months ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

I can do more than assume, I can attest.

I was a colleague and planning partner of Bryan’s, and can say that I saw him finding ways to provide equal voice and challenge all views equally. He does not lead his students to conclusions, but rather asks them hard questions, forcing all students to formulate and defend their positions, no matter what their particular position may be.

Last edited 2 months ago by Nathan Jacobson
SAH
SAH
2 months ago

Teaching critical thinking and coming to their own conclusions after being given all the information. I bet his students will benefit from this the rest of their lives. Sounds like a great teacher. Thanks for giving us your perspective as someone who has worked along side him. This is education.

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
2 months ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

How can one expect an unbiased presentation of U.S. history from a dues-paying “democratic socialist” who proudly posts the socialist rose on his Twitter feed?

Susan
Susan
2 months ago

Well said Brian. Your students are lucky to have you for their teacher. You represent the teaching profession with dignity and integrity. Thank you for putting kids and facts first. We need more advocates like you!

Make Aurora Gnarly Again
Make Aurora Gnarly Again
2 months ago

Teaching students about systemic racial oppression, white privilege, and how white supremacy functions in government is a great way to teach history and give young adults the context and knowledge to understand our world and our nation.

However, it’s not critical race theory. Critical race theory is the critical examination of law and its intersection with race. Unless Mr Lindstrom is teaching pre-law, ya’ll salty white folks can calm down. He’s just teaching plain old US history, the same history students can find on Wikipedia.

Will
2 months ago

I’d challenge the notion that “race, class, gender, and oppression” should be the “crux of a history class”. Do we want our kids seeing the world in these terms? This does not build self-determination, gratitude, and individual excellence in kids–it does not prepare them to live fulfilling lives.

And we risk eroding/transforming America’s founding principles when this is the “crux” of what we teach. We should teach an honest/full history of America, recognizing our common sins w/ the rest of the world, while teaching what has made America uniquely great, the overwhelmingly #1 desired destination for immigrants of all backgrounds
.
Our progress in overcoming our flaws is b/c we’ve more fully lived up to our founding principles, not despite them. To build on that progress, we owe kids better than training them to see the world through race, class, gender, and oppression.