I'm glad I decided to wait. The MDOE has now put out a press release saying there is absolutely no truth to this story, which first surfaced in the above-cited Detroit News op-ed piece, written by an ex-MDOE member. According to the release:
In perhaps a well-intentioned, but pernicious example of political correctness, the Michigan Department of Education is attempting to ban the "America" and "American" from our public schools. Even though the word "America" appears in the department's own civics and government benchmarks, the department's style protocol for the Michigan Education Assessment Program requires that "America" and "Americans" be expunged from our testing and grade level expectations. Last week, the department ordered that our hard-working teachers not utter the words.
The Department of Education asserts that "Americans" includes Mexicans, Canadians and others in the Western Hemisphere, so referring to U.S. residents as Americans is inappropriate. In the department's view, "America" happens to include South, Central and North America. Accordingly, when referring to the colonial period, the state bureaucracy requires teachers to refer to "the colonies of North America" or "North Americans." After the American Revolution, the nation is called the United States (not of America).
That's about as firm a denial as you can make, although it obviously doesn't preclude the possibility that the advisory group isn't considering making the recommendation that the use of "America" be done away with. In fact, it looks as though that may be closer to the truth. The Free Press has this in a sidebar to the original op-ed:
No such edict has gone out to school teachers across Michigan, nor will one, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. He explained that an independent association of Social Studies educators has discussed the issue of official U.S. documents or titles, but that any recommendations regarding changes in school curriculum have not even made it to his desk for review.
Inasmuch, Flanagan emphatically stated that, if such a recommendation ever came to his desk, it would be stopped in its tracks.
“We are not seeking to do away with the terms ‘America’ or ‘American’ from classroom instruction,” Flanagan said. “It’s not going to happen. I consider myself an American. We live in the United States of America. We are citizens of the United States of America. But the vernacular is that we’re Americans.”
These curriculum associations consist of curriculum content supervisors who represent diverse views and opinions.
“These are advisory groups,” Flanagan said. “The conversations and internal communications between members of an independent association have been misconstrued as Department of Education policy. This is not a Department of Education policy, nor will it ever be our policy while I’m here. I would never approve the removal of ‘America’ or ‘American’ from our classrooms. Not on my watch.”
What a state social studies consultant is telling educators in e-mails about using "America" and "Americans" in tests and courses:Okay, so that's one moron's advice. But the question is, how could the Detroit Free Press run the op-ed itself without first checking with the state Department of Education? Instapundit linked to the op-ed early this afternoon, but why wouldn't he? It's one thing to run an opinion piece in which facts can be disputed, but even the biggest MSM-hater probably wouldn't expect a fairly well-respected newspaper to publish an op-ed in which the entire subject is totally inaccurate. And the sidebar, rather than absolving the Free Press, makes matters worse, because it appears as though it backs up the op-ed.
Even now, I can't find any mention of the Department of Ed's flatout denial anywhere on the DFP's website, meaning anybody reading the op-ed now has no reason to question its veracity. Maybe the "Free" in Free Press refers to the paper's level of truth content. The Detroit Press: Now Truth-free!