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The History That Explains Today's School Wars

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86 school districts in 26 states, removing worksby Judy Blume, the much-loved author of fiction for children and young adults, the late Toni Morrison, who won both the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for literature, and biographies of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges, Nelson Mandela, Sonia Sotomayor, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Malala Yousafzai.

There are the bills that ban the teaching of critical race theory, Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, and a raft of other proposals that would sharply restrict what teachers can say, and what students can read and learn, both in primary and secondary schools, as well as state-supported universities.This phenomenon isn’t new.

Public schools have been the focus of political energy for as long as they’ve existed in the United States — often acting as the staging ground for broader conflicts over race, sex and sexuality, religion and a host of other debates.The most prominent example of school wars as proxy for political wars is the Scopes “monkey trial” of 1925, when John Scopes, an elementary school teacher in Tennessee, stood trial for violating the state’s legal ban on teaching evolution.

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