SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California state lawmakers want to mandate schools teach lessons about Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and other politically charged issues to high school students.
Assemblyman Marc Levine, a Democrat from San Rafael, is pushing legislation to task the state’s Instructional Quality Commission with developing a lesson about the role Russian hackers allegedly played in the 2016 election and recommend the state board incorporate the lesson into new history and social studies standards.
Levine appeared Monday on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight to defend the measure against critics who oppose lawmakers injecting political bias into school lessons.
“To me, the most important thing is we need to understand our history to have a sense of what foreign policy we have in the future, so looking back decades from now, why are we on the course that we’re on,” Levine said, comparing the issue to the War of 1812, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Marshall Plan.
“These are moments in history that help us really understand where American leadership has come from,” he insisted. “We need to understand Russian interference in the 2016 election and its impacts on foreign policy …”
National Intelligence Director James Clapper alleged in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in January that Russian hackers meddled in the 2016 election, but acknowledged that the alleged hacking “did not change any vote tallies” and the “intelligence community can’t gauge the impact it had on the choices the electorate made,” according to the Associated Press.
Despite the many unknowns, Clapper declared Russia “an existential threat to the United States.”
Carlson pointed out to Levine that “we don’t understand the effect of Russia right now” and questioned his motivation for injecting the issue into school history books before that’s clear.
“The War of 1812 was 200 years ago, the Marshall Plan was 70 years ago, we have an advantage. We sort of get it now. We have perspective,” he said. “We have no perspective on what happened (in 2016), and basically what you’re suggesting is adding propaganda from a politician into text books, and why should I be in favor of that?”
Levine then attempted to shift the conversation to President Donald Trump.
“Well, the intelligence community had an assessment where they agreed that the Russian government and Vladimir Putin himself, had the boldest move ever in the interference in our election. And this will have an impact on American foreign policy, but we have a president who is the least curious man on the planet about this issue,” Levine said.
“Usually the winners write the history books,” he said, “and we need to make sure the truth is in our history books and it’s not papered over by the president.”
“No, what you’re doing is trying to get losers to write the history books,” Carlson shot back. “I just want the historians to write the history books.”
“You know as well as I what you’re suggesting is the addition of political propaganda into text books, there’s nothing to substantiate your claims, we don’t know Russia’s intent, we don’t know the extent to which they influenced this election,” he continued. “Those are unknowable right now, and you know that as well as I do.”
Levine’s efforts follow a bill introduced by California state Sen. Bill Todd, a Napa Democrat, to teach students “media literacy” and how to differentiate “fake news” from the real deal, The Mercury News reports.
“During the final, critical months of the 2016 presidential campaign,” according to the bill, “20 top-performing false election stories from hoax Web sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on social media.”
Republican state Sen. John Moorlach described Levine’s efforts as a “petty” example of “showmanship,” and condemned both lawmakers’ efforts to inject political bias into public school classrooms.
“I’d just be happy if we taught kids how to read and write and do arithmetic,” he said.