http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-history8oct08,1,993774.storyThe Department of Education destroys 300,000 parent guides to remove references to national standards.
WASHINGTON The Education Department this summer destroyed more than 300,000 copies of a booklet designed for parents to help their children learn history after the office of Vice President Dick Cheney's wife complained that it mentioned the National Standards for History, which she has long opposed.
In June, during a routine update, the Education Department began distributing a new edition of a 10-year-old how-to guide called "Helping Your Child Learn History." Aimed at parents of children from preschool through fifth grade, the 73-page booklet presented an assortment of advice, including taking children to museums and visiting historical sites.
The booklet included several brief references to the National Standards for History, which were developed at UCLA in the mid-1990s with federal support. Created by scholars and educators to help school officials design better history courses, they are voluntary benchmarks, not mandatory requirements.
At the time, Lynne Cheney, the wife of now-Vice President Cheney, led a vociferous campaign complaining that the standards were not positive enough about America's achievements and paid too little attention to figures such as Gen. Robert E. Lee, Paul Revere and Thomas Edison.
At one point in the initial controversy, Cheney denounced the standards as "politicized history."
In response to the criticism, the UCLA standards were heavily revised, most critics were mollified and the controversy faded but not for Cheney and her staff.
As the wife of the vice president, Cheney has no executive position in the federal government. But when her office spotted the references to the National Standards for History in the new edition of the history booklet, her staff communicated its displeasure to the Education Department.
Subsequently, the department decided it was necessary to kill the new edition and reprint it with references to the standards removed. Though about 61,000 copies of "Helping Your Child Learn History" had been distributed, the remaining 300,000-plus copies were destroyed. Asked about the decision, one department official said they had been "recycled."
When The Times initially approached the Education Department to inquire about the booklets, the department issued a statement saying it had taken the unusual action because of "mistakes, including typos and incomplete information."
Later, Susan Aspey, the department's press secretary, admitted that typographical errors were not the reason. Asked about the role of Cheney's office, Aspey responded:
"The decision was ours to stop distribution and reprint. Both offices were on parallel tracks and obviously neither of us were pleased that the final document was not the accurate reflection of policy that was approved originally."
A representative for Cheney said her office did not order the destruction of the booklets. "Unequivocally, [neither] Mrs. Cheney nor her staff insisted on having the history publication recalled," said spokeswoman Maria Miller. "And that's just the bottom line."
However, neither department officials nor Cheney's office would discuss the episode in detail. Both refused to allow interviews with the staffers involved.
Individuals with knowledge of the events said complaints from Cheney's office moved the Education Department to act. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity.