Dumbed Down

For all the barbering over math and science education in this country, we at least have this going for us; kids who really really want a good education in science can find it, eventually, somewhere.  And at least people at all levels are concerned about it.

Social studies, though?  There’s little to no sense of crisis about our kids’ knowledge of our history, culture and government.

There should be.

It’s easy to caricature social studies education.  I’ve remarked – mostly seriously – that in my 20 years of having kids in Saint Paul schools the only things they learned about were slavery and civil rights.  It ‘s not entirely accurate – I remember my stepson having to write papers about the Constitution and Leningrad (different papers, naturally) in ninth grade. But as to my two younger ones?  The “social studies” class Bun took last summer (told herehere,here and here) was only the most caricaturish example.

The bad news?  That was the good news.

More bad news? It’s going to get worse.

Karen Effrem, writing at True North, notes that the state is considering watering the state’s social studies standards down still further:

Tragically, the new draft revision of the social studies standards for Minnesota’s public school students will not help to reverse any of these damaging trends.

In fact, the draft is a giant step backwards. Even a cursory perusal shows that the politically correct, liberal, leftist elites are having a field day. They are not just revising and tweaking, as the less than ideal legislation passed in 2003 allowed, but this is a wholesale leftist revision that should be opposed with great vigor.

How bad is it?

Very, very bad:

The Declaration of Independence that first listed the principles of our republic such as God given unalienable rights and self-evident truth and that served as the cornerstone inspiration for our Constitution, is only mentioned twice and then, not after the fifth grade.

· The draft removes the phrases found in the current standards that are found in the Declaration, such as, “unalienable rights” and “self-evident truth” These were kept in the current standards after much struggle and wrangling with then DFL Senate Education Committee Chairman, Steve Kelley, who infamously said (at 31:09) during that contentious process:

I am not sure it is accurate, legally or historically to call the Declaration of Independence a founding document.

Kelley could have been your governor…

It seems as though there is an effort to make sure that students do not understand that our rights are inherent and God-given and not from government.

Ding ding ding.

It’s in government’s interest for The People to believe it’s the source of all things good.

· Use of the word “liberty” has been decreased from 18 incidents in the current standards to only one in the draft. No longer will it be required that students be taught the meaning and importance of the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as some of our unalienable rights. There is no discussion in the standards about the sacrifices so many have made to preserve that liberty. In fact, words like “valor,” “sacrifice,” and “defense” are not used at all.

In other words, the “America Bad!” mien that kids overwhelmingly get today is going to kick in its turbocharger.

· Similarly, use of the word “freedom” has decreased from 13 times in the current standards to 4 times in the draft, all in relation to only racial freedom and equality. There is no discussion of any other kind of freedom discussed in our Constitution or Bill of Rights, such as religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of association, etc. which are inherent and unalienable, as described in the Declaration of Independence.

Read the whole, depressing, infuriating thing.

And think really hard about calling your legislator.  If it’s one of the smart ones.

The ones that learned their social studies before 1998 or so.

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13 thoughts on “Dumbed Down

  1. When unions control the output of the education system, very little good can result. It’s like Charlie Sheen being assigned to you as a chem-dep counselor.

  2. This is a top-down push. When Great Leader Obama quotes the Declaration of Independence he says “all men are created equal, and are endowed with certain unalienable rights”. No mention of our Creator in the Obama version.
    But He’s a Christian. Really. Just ask him.

  3. The scary smart, reality based community needs more raw material for Jay Leno to mock during Jay Walks.

    “So..(smirk) who was known as “the father of our country?”

    “Umm, Eminem?” Laughter ensues….

  4. Allow me to dust off an old, pre-True North post that fits with this subject and the recent charter school posts:

    Honest, Mom, I wasn’t doing anything. I was sitting in my American History class and Ms. Wolverton was talking about the founding fathers, and when she got through telling us about the first president — Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor, that is, so you know I was paying attention — she told us to take out our Diversity Journals and write about what it would feel like to be beat up by cops employed by fatcat capitalists and to not have health insurance besides.

    So I was opening up my backpack when it slipped – honest! – and everything spilled out on the floor. Well, not everything, because I was able to catch my iPod, you know, and then the Wolf, I mean, Ms. Wolverton points at the floor next to me and says, really mean-like, “What’s that?”

    Well, I look down and I say, “Nothing Ms. Wolverton, that’s just the condoms they gave us in third period today.”

    “No,” she says, “What’s that?”

    Then I say, “You mean this flyer about what time Tuesday morning we’re to catch the school bus to take us to the state capital to protest for higher education spending?”

    “No!” she says, and now she’s really mad. “That looks like one of the new Trapper Keepers that Wal-Mart is advertising in the newspaper! How dare you bring something like that to school?”

    “Hey, it’s not mine,” I said. “Someone must have stuck that in there just to get me in trouble, probably during Conflict-Resolution class!” Really, Mom, that Billy Swedberg is sooo passive-aggressive.

    So anyway, now Ms. Wolverton is all, “shopping at Wal-Mart is the first step to economic servitude, and how buying a Trapper Keeper seems innocent enough now but, like, the next thing you know I’ll be listening to talk radio and voting Republican,” you know? Then she says something like, “someday when you’re working 70 hours a week for $1 you’ll wish you’d paid more attention in class.” Well, I didn’t really know what to say to that, but she gave me the idea, so I said, “I’m sorry, my ADD is acting up – what was the question again?”

    Well, that seemed to calm her down and I thought it was all going to blow over when she says, “I don’t know what people are looking for when they go into a den of iniquity and social injustice like Wal-Mart.”

    OK, Mom, I knooow I should have kept my mouth shut, but I wasn’t really thinking because I was still so nervous, so I said, “Good values?” And that’s when she went ballistic and told me I knew I wasn’t allowed to use that kind of language in school and that I had to go to the principal’s office and they were going to call you to come and get me.

    So, am I in trouble?

  5. Even with much better standards, I have faith that districts could still choose from a variety of garbage filled text books.

    That said, why learn “World History” before “U.S. History”? Why use BCE and CE instead of BC and AD? Why remove religious influence from history lessons? Why teach tilted, dry, shoestring economics?

    To remove context.

  6. Careful there, Troy!

    Next thing you know they will BO (Before Obama) and AO (After Obama)! Of course, they may substitute things like BDL (Before the Dear Leader) or BTBM (Before the Black Messiah). You get the drift.

  7. “The Declaration of Independence that first listed the principles of our republic such as God given unalienable rights and self-evident truth and that served as the cornerstone inspiration for our Constitution, is only mentioned twice and then, not after the fifth grade.”

    Kermit Says:
    March 8th, 2011 at 8:38 am
    This is a top-down push. When Great Leader Obama quotes the Declaration of Independence he says “all men are created equal, and are endowed with certain unalienable rights”. No mention of our Creator in the Obama version.
    But He’s a Christian. Really. Just ask him.

    Yes, Kermit, He IS a Christian, and we ARE a secular nation. The Declaration of Independence uses the phrase endowed by our Creator, it does not say God. That might seem a hair-splitting difference, but it was a term specifically adpted to avoid naming any specific deity, and to apply to the concept of a creative force (like the big bang) OR to anyone’s deity of preference.

    I am deeply concerned about the dumbing down of this country, but our test scores correlate very clearly – affluent areas have high test scores; areas of poverty have very low test scores. Currently an estimated 25% of children live in poverty in this country.
    http://www.heartsandminds.org/articles/childpov.htm
    from
    http://www.answers.com/topic/overview-of-poverty-and-education :
    “the United States still ranks highest in childhood poverty among all industrialized nations.”
    and

    “Consequences of Income Poverty on Children’s Educational Outcomes
    Simple comparisons between children in poor families and children in non-poor families using national datasets indicate that poor children are more likely to do worse on indices of school achievement than non-poor children are. Poor children are twice as likely as non-poor children to have repeated a grade, to have been expelled or suspended from school, or to have dropped out of high school. They are also 1.4 times as likely to be identified as having a learning disability in elementary or high school than their non-poor counterparts.”

    Frankly we have other problems arguably greater than our social studies curriculum, and I think a good point could be made that the current budget cuts being promoted by the right are likely to make the above worse, not better, which will in turn be reflected in our academic results.

    You are all putting a very large cart ahead of a very important horse, gentlemen.

  8. I am the exception of my generation K-Rod, not the rule. Not to sound egotistical or anything

  9. Pingback: Begging The Answer | Shot in the Dark

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