GOP rep chastises Cardona for 1619 Project-inspired grant proposal: 'I would encourage you to live by the law'

GOP Rep. Tim Walberg grills Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on admin’s endorsement of 1619 Project

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona testifies at hearing regarding Dept. of Education’s policies and priorities.

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., gave Education Secretary Miguel Cardona a stern warning that a proposal of his for American history and civics education runs afoul of federal law by seeking to influence the content of school curriculum.

At a hearing before the House Education and Labor Committee on Thursday, Walberg grilled Cardona about the proposal, which references the 1619 Project as an example of “including, in the teaching and learning of our country’s history, both the consequences of slavery, and the significant contributions of Black Americans to our society.” 

The 1619 Project has drawn criticism for its framing of American history around slavery, as its name is based on the year the first slave ships arrived in the New World, well before the U.S. was founded.

“The law clearly prohibits the Department of Education from prescribing direct curriculum and offering payments for it,” Walberg said, citing section 103(b) of the Department of Education Organization Act, sec 438 of the General Education Provisions Act, and Section 8527 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 

“Will you retract your proposed grant priorities in order to comply with federal law?” he asked.

Cardona defended the proposal, claiming that he and his department are “not promoting curriculum” and do not wish to be “politicizing” curriculum.

Walberg expressed a concern that Cardona was signaling the department’s desire for curriculum through the grant proposal, which calls for applicants to show how their projects use practices that “[t]ake into account systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history,” in addition to achieving other goals related to diversity.

“I would encourage you to live by the law and not violate it,” Walberg said.

The congressman made clear that he supports the idea of promoting “diverse perspectives,” but asserted that the 1619 Project does not accomplish this.

“It defames the history of the United States,” he said. “But more importantly, the Department of Education by law is precluded from doing that and prohibited from signaling, proposing, or granting for those proposals.”

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