Legislator pushes student survey on history teachings via her Facebook page


(UPDATED, 9:30 a.m. Monday with a response from Rep. Nichols)

Idaho Rep. Tammy Nichols recently aggregated a survey of second through eighth graders on what they’ve learned in school about topics like slavery, the moon landing and major American historical figures, all via her campaign Facebook page.

Rep. Tammy Nichols (back) watches Governor Brad Little’s 2020 State of the State address. Sami Edge/Idaho EdNews

The questionnaire asks second and third graders what, if anything, they’ve learned about figures ranging from Abraham Lincoln to Christopher Columbus, while older students are questioned on their education about the United States’ founding fathers and Civil War-era abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

The survey’s goals and methodology are ambiguous. But Nichols’ move emerged in lockstep with apprehensions fellow hardline conservatives raised in this year’s legislative session: chiefly, that curricula allegedly emphasizing social justice is rousing anti-American sentiment among Idaho children. The survey was posted to Nichols’ campaign Facebook page last Friday, searching grade school respondents through the 5,000 or so users who’ve “liked” her page.

All students are being asked questions like, “What do you believe makes America the greatest country on the earth?” and “Are you proud to be an American?” (For a full list of questions, view the survey here.)

Nichols, R-Middleton, wrote on her page, “We are conducting a study of the curriculum in Idaho Public Schools and need your help. We need as many students as possible (2nd grade-8th grade) to complete a short survey … with the help of their parents or guardians. We need to get results as soon as possible. Please share this with other Idahoans. Thank you.”

Screenshot from Rep. Tammy Nichols’ campaign Facebook

It’s unclear who the “we” conducting the survey includes; Nichols did not responded to EdNews requests for comment before publication.

In a Thursday email, Nichols said she shared the survey from a Facebook page for the “National Education Guardians,” which sent the survey out to its 70 followers last month. The page describes itself as “an organization that seeks to improve K-12 education in the United States of America,” through its opposition to critical race theory, Common Core and comprehensive sex education.

Nichols said she didn’t write the survey. She was unsure who did, who is part of the organization and how results will be used. The National Education Guardians, while nominally national, post almost exclusively about Idaho education.

Also unclear are how and if the survey results could eventually impact policy. The Middleton School District, where Nichols resides, is not connected to the survey, spokeswoman Vickie Holbrook confirmed by email Wednesday.

The survey also questions students on what they’ve learned about boycotts, demonstrations and the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Nichols has joined political allies in accusing educators and child care professionals of encouraging progressive activism among young children.

“The goal in the long run is to be able to take our children from birth and to be able to start indoctrinating them and teaching them to be activists,” Nichols said, debating against a pre-K grant in March, EdNews reported.

Blake Jones

Blake Jones

Reporter Blake Jones covers the politics and policy of Idaho's K-12 public school system. He's a lifelong Idahoan, and holds degrees in Creative Writing and Political Economy from the College of Idaho. Follow Blake on Twitter @jonesblakej. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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