Senate turns up heat on humanities

THE political heat beneath the recently published national history standards for US schools, prepared for the National Endowment for the Humanities, was turned up Wednesday night by a Senate vote condemning the standards. The ``sense of the Senate'' resolution, which is not legally binding, criticized the standards documents for lacking ``a decent respect for the contributions of Western civilization and United States history.''

The author of the resolution, Sen. Slade Gorton (R) of Washington, described the standards as ``ideology masquerading as history.'' According to his press aide, Heidi Kelly, the senator had reviewed the standards and the criticism they've attracted and ``was not pleased with the results from the two years and $2 million worth of work'' that went into their formulation.

The Senate vote was 99 to 1, the one being Sen. Bennett Johnston (D) of Louisiana. Senator Johnston, according to his office, voted no because he'd like to see Congress take firmer action against the standards than a nonbinding resolution.

The scholars, teachers, and others who wrote the standards over a two-year period ardently defend them as the product of thorough consultation and compromise. Michele Foreman, a history teacher at Middlebury Union High School in Vermont, helped put together the standards. ``You have to realize what they are,'' she says, ``a consensus of every leading historical and educational group in the country.''

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