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Senate Rejects Standards For Teaching History Western Civilization Presented Poorly, Gorton Resolution Says

The Senate voted 99-1 Wednesday to repudiate proposed new standards for teaching children history, saying they present Western civilization in an unflattering light.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., asks government agencies to reject three curriculum guides proposed late last year. The proposals suggest ways to make history come alive for students from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

The architect of the voluntary standards - the National History Standards Project based at the University of California, Los Angeles - sought to embrace non-white cultures, but some conservatives complained they belittled Western culture in the name of multiculturalism.

After meeting with critics Jan. 12, project officials agreed to re-examine their work and reword anything that could be interpreted as biased.

Gary Nash, co-director of the project, declined immediate comment after Wednesday’s Senate vote.

Gorton’s resolution, which is not legally binding, said that if any government agency budgets money for a program based on the standards, “the recipient of such funds should have a decent respect for U.S. history’s roots in Western civilization.”

Gorton objected to what was left out of the standards, said his spokeswoman, Heidi Kelly.

“There were few references to George Washington. In 31 course standards, they failed to mention the Constitution,” she said. “There was no mention of Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and some of American’s other historical figures who really made America a better place.”

The drive to set standards for teaching history and other subjects was launched as part of Goals 2000, a package of legislation Congress passed to improve teaching and student performance nationwide.