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 here, here,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.