LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A bill introduced to the General Assembly on Thursday, March 2 would ban public schools in Arkansas from using books from best-selling author and historian Howard Zinn.
House Bill 1834, introduced by Representative Kim Hendren (R-Gravette), would ban books by Zinn from the years 1959 until 2000 for being used in public schools or an open-enrollment public charter school.
In 1980, Zinn released "A People's History of the United States," which looks at the history of America through the point of view of "women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers."
The Zinn Education Project was launched in 2008, offering teachers the ability to create lessons based upon the book. The project's website offers free downloadable lessons organized by theme and time period as well as reading level.
"Its goal is to introduce students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula," the website states.
Famed author and philosopher Noam Chomsky said Zinn's work "changed the way millions of people saw the past."
But, in the years since it came out, the book has been under scrutiny by critics who say Zinn's book omits important moments in history. One conservative author, Daniel J. Flynn, has even labeled Zinn as presenting a biased view of history and calling him an anti-American Marxist.
Michael Kazin for Dissent Magazine said, "[The book] is bad history, albeit gilded with virtuous intentions. Zinn reduces the past to Manichean fable and makes no serious attempt to address the biggest question a leftist can ask about U.S. history: why have most Americans accepted the legitimacy of the capitalist republic in which they live?"
In 2013, the Associated Press reported that former Indiana Governor and current president of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels, requested that Zinn's work be banned from classrooms as well as asking for a "cleanup of college courses." In an email, Daniels called the book an "anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page."
It remains to be seen what argument Hendren has for wanting to ban Zinn's books, but it's set to go before the House committee on education on early next week.
The Zinn Education Project is offering free copies of "A People's History of the United States" to teachers in Arkansas in response to the bill.
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