WILMINGTON — In a piece written for the74million.org, a non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America, Wilmington High School student Lillian Perriello, 16, wrote an op-ed entitled “Dear Adult Leaders: We Must Understand Our Country’s Truthful Past to Shape Our Present & Future. Adopt Honest Standards.”
Her article is part of the site’s “Dear Adult Leaders: #ListenToYouth,” a four-week series produced in collaboration with American’s Promise Alliance to elevate student voices in the national conversation as schools and districts navigate how to educate the country’s youth in a global pandemic.
Perriello argues that due to rapidly shifting and diversifying demographics, current curriculum “does not reflect these changes.”
She pushes for schools to become more inclusive and representative in how they teach the history of this country.
Perriello asks schools to adopt a standard that highlights the “contributions and experiences of people of color.”
She points out how easy it is to sweep the more “brutal or even disgusting” part of the nation’s history under the rug. She uses the example of American growth through Native American sacrifice to highlight just one instance of a dark period very rarely taught.
She also mentions slavery and how the southern economy relied heavily on the free labor provided by Black slaves linking it to the treatment of Black men and women today.
Perriello even notes how all minority groups, from Irish and Italian to German and Muslim, were at one time ostracized by society and had to prove their worth.
“Confronting these parts of our history can be difficult and uncomfortable for students and teachers alike,” she acknowledges.
But, the 16-year old presses for unity: “Americans cannot look at any other American and not see the common blood, sweat and tears our ancestors endured to create the identities we share and the country we live in.”
She argues that part of what defines a nation is how it “reckons with and teaches its past.”
To read Perriello’s full letter, visit https://www.the74million.org/article/dear-adult-leaders-we-must-understand-our-countrys-truthful-past-to-shape-our-present-future-its-time-to-adopt-standards-that-are-honest-and-highlight-the-contributions-of-people/