Teaching Kids Controversy: Education, Pluralism, and Hot Topics

Policy Forum
May 15, 2017
4:00PM to 5:30PM EDT
Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute
Featuring Jonathan Zimmerman, Professor of History of Education, University of Pennsylvania and Coauthor of the new book, The Case for Contention: Teaching Controversial Issues in American Schools; Ashley Rogers Berner, Deputy Director of the Institute for Education Policy, Johns Hopkins University, and Author, No One Way to School: Pluralism and American Public Education; Elizabeth Anderson Worden, Associate Professor, School of Education, American University, and Author, National Identity and Educational Reform: Contested Classrooms; Neal McCluskey, Director, Center for Educational Freedom and Curator, Cato’s Public Schooling Battle Map, Cato Institute; moderated by Valerie Strauss, Education Reporter, Washington Post

Public schools were created with a mission to bring diverse people together and inculcate shared values thought necessary for democracy. But teaching children about politically, religiously, racially, or otherwise highly charged topics has turned out to be very difficult, driven by fear of igniting explosive conflicts. The result has been that potential flashpoints—but also crucial topics—have often been soft-pedaled or skipped entirely in schools. Which raises a fundamental question: Can a public education system encompassing very diverse people ever teach all children about highly controversial topics? Join a panel of experts as they tackle a critical question that is, itself, highly contentious.