I am writing as the mother of a Nevada Union High School senior, a child born and raised here in this county.
My daughter has benefitted from an excellent education in Nevada County’s public school system. She carries a 4.2 grade point average, and has been accepted to the college of her choice. Her education in this town has provided a platform for her to continue to build an intellectual life, an ethical life, a good life rooted in the knowledge and skill of the teachers she has had here, beginning in kindergarten.
She, like so many of her friends, is leaving Nevada Union High School with the ability to think, to discern between right and wrong, to problem-solve, and to read widely and think deeply about many things, including the complex issues facing our community and our world at this particular moment in time.
It is important to me that children and young people in Nevada County are educated about what really happened in this country, even when these things are uncomfortable to acknowledge.
My mother grew up in Norway. When she was nine years old, Hitler’s forces occupied her country and she watched as school friends and neighbors mysteriously disappeared. She witnessed her father, active in the resistance movement, help to shuttle friends and community members—in danger because of their religion and other beliefs—during the night across the border of our family farm to the safety of Sweden. She, her family, and many others lived in fear of what this man, who unapologetically espoused White Supremacy across the globe, might do next.
Nevada County holds a dark history of murder and torture that until recently was not commonly known, discussed, or taught in our schools. Over the last ten years the Nisenan people, the original people of this land, have garnered support from local community members and gathered the courage to tell the truth of what happened. Less than twenty Nisenan remained alive here after disease, murder and bounty hunting, sanctified by the government, forever changed their peaceful landscape.
Acknowledgement and grieving are healthy responses to the atrocious injustices committed by people who lived before us on this land and in this country. Healing and making things right involves speaking truth and conducting conversations about creating a country in which all people can thrive, not just people born into privilege.
Our children and young people need to continue to learn to think for themselves. They must know all aspects of United States history so as not to repeat the mistakes that were made in the past, so as not to perpetuate acts of violence, rooted in fear and greed, that continue in our country today.
The suppression of teaching the most difficult aspects of America’s history leads to the continuation of distorted views and potentially deadly injustices.
What are we afraid of? Are we afraid that our children will be exposed to too much information, or “the wrong” information? Who has the right to decide what information is right and what is wrong?
There is hope for the future if our children and young people are aware of all aspects of history and taught to think for themselves.
Humans are fallible and humans can learn. Learn they must, to right the wrongs of the past and to create a future where all people are valued as equal and given equal opportunities.