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Veterans Aim To Boost Teaching About Vietnam

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Washington--Leaders of the Vietnam Veterans of America last week announced plans to help speed the end of what many have called the "silence in the classroom" on the divisive Vietnam era.

During the group's annual meeting here, plans to create local speakers' bureaus nationwide to assist high schools in teaching about the war were unveiled, as well as a lobbying drive to convince more schools to adopt a highly regarded curriculum on the war.

The efforts will be supported by a $100,000 grant from the Home Box Office cable-television service.

According to Kenneth A. Berez, associate director for fundraising for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, the organization wants to see more high schools adopt all or part of the Vietnam curriculum published last spring by the Pittsburgh-based Center for Social Studies Education. (See Education Week, June 8, 1988.)

The curriculum consists of 12 units that can be purchased together or separately. Included are seg4ments on the history and culture of Vietnam, American soldiers, the My Lai massacre, "the war at home," the Vietnamese "boat people," and the war and literature.

As of this summer, some 900 teachers had ordered the curriculum, which is entitled "Lessons of the Vietnam War."

The hbo grant will also help the foundation teach local veterans' groups about setting up speakers' bureaus to make Vietnam veterans available to speak to high-school students.

"We realize that very few schools have courses dedicated to Vietnam," Mr. Berez said, "but teachers can adapt these materials [to their needs]."

The effort, he said, "will enable us to let the next generation coming of age learn about the war."

--k.g.

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