Archive for the ‘Standards’ Category
Do you have a successful school? Lots of good teachers doing a good job educating students? Do you enjoy the federal dollars you receive for funding? The feds are about to turn that peanut butter and chocolate combination into cyanide and chocolate. (chocolate being the good local teachers just to clarify the analogy :))
A few days ago congress was presented with an 860 page education bill from Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. The Heritage Foundation has started a review of the bill and notes:
For example, the bill would codify Obama Administration education priorities, such as the “equitable distribution” of effective teachers among schools. It would eliminate “adequate yearly progress”—the onerous federal requirement that mandated every child be proficient in reading and math by 2014—but would replace it with requirements that states prove they have “college- and career-ready” standards, giving Washington more control over the content taught in local schools.
Good news for schools on getting rid of AYP but if you’re successful, it’s time to chop that school up and send some of those teachers to failing schools to make sure they get quality teachers too. Oh, and don’t miss the great news that the Feds aren’t mandating national standards, they’ll just force you to be on “college- and career-ready” standards. Gee, I wonder where we can find national standards that will fit that bill? Oh yeah, the CCSS are available for use. We’ll just force everyone taking federal dollars to get on those standards so the federal assessments being rolled out will apply nationally. The factory model of education can continue but with total control from the top.
Educators and legislators, if you thought NCLB and AYP were bad, wait till this rolls out. You’ve got to get us off the federal welfare dime or what’s coming isn’t going to be good for anyone. Teachers are going to lose jobs in places they like, they’re going to lose freedom to teach what they deem necessary and be forced to teach to a national test, and children are going to lose any hope of having an education customized to their needs because the factory belt model of compulsory education is going to become more vise-like than ever.
What is being done? Heritage is pushing forward with an “A-PLUS” plan to bring accountability to parents and taxpayers while reducing the federal footprint, but I do not think this will happen in time to help our state. State lawmakers and educators need to work together to completely eliminate all federal funding and reject all mandates that come from Washington.
On this current education nightmare bill above, Washington always seems to have a way to get these things through, but thankfully the House is controlled by the Republicans so the Democrats are going to have a hard time getting this bill passed. Senator Rand Paul talk here about introducing 100 amendments to stop this bill in its tracks. I hope he’s successful.
Someone recently emailed me this 6th grade history standard from the Utah state history standards. It’s more important than ever that you know your state school board candidates and make sure they are committed to reviewing what’s being approved for use in Utah. How this is a standard and hasn’t been shouted from the rooftops by someone is stunning.
Determine human rights and responsibilities in the world.
- Identify rights considered essential for all humans (e.g. health care, education, safety, freedom from fear, freedom of expression).
- Propose steps individual students can take to protect these rights (e.g. support for sister schools, energy and resource conservation, letter writing, career choices, fundraising efforts).
First students will identify rights that aren’t really rights, and then they’ll go to the next step and propose ways to advocate or devote their life to them.
The new Texas standards are looking better and better for potential adoption in Utah.
I received a copy of this document prepared by Judy Cox and obtained her permission to post it here. I think this is a great job of showing some of the differences between the new Texas standards and the Utah standards.
Contrasting Utah’s Core Curriculum for Grades 3-6 Social Studies with the new Texas Standards for K-5 Grades
In compiling this information, I do not intend to infer that teachers in the State of Utah are not teaching important information in the Social Studies curriculum to our students. I have personally participated with my children in Veterans Day observances, patriotic programs, and pioneer treks that show a concerted effort on teacher’s part to teach our students an appreciation for the country we live in and an understanding of societal relationships and community responsibilities. I am not a professional educator, but a parent who has had three children in Utah schools, and will soon have two grandchildren entering the public school system here in Utah. My knowledge and concern come from study, experience with my own children, and a desire to better the educational experience for my grandchildren and other children in our state.
My intent is to show that the guidelines given to Utah teachers are lacking in specificity of content, and that valuable information, concepts, and ideas are missing from the core curriculum in the state. These standards guide the selection of textbooks and curriculum. Without more exact requirements and guidelines, many details, concepts, ideas, and critical exposure to important historical figures and other social studies components may be missed or ignored, and some concepts may be over-stressed at the expense of others of equal or greater importance. Additionally, parents do not have the assurance of specifics that must be taught in the curriculum when students experience the occasional teacher whose personal opinions and beliefs and/or political ideology supplant the responsibility of teaching the core curriculum.
The new Texas curriculum provides a more thorough and comprehensive look at the founding of our country, the importance of knowing and understanding historical figures, places, and dates, stresses the importance of the knowledge and celebration of our patriotic holidays, and helps students understand the meaning and importance of citizenship and civic responsibility. The curriculum is rich in examples of men and women who have contributed to our society and emphasizes the role individuals play in creating positive changes within our communities, state, and nation.
By citing the following, I hope to bring to light a certain inadequacy within our State curriculum that can, and should be remedied. While neither states’ curriculum is without gaps, by implementing the more specific aspects of Texas’ curriculum we can create a more thorough and rigorous course of study for our Utah students. The importance of this curriculum in our elementary schools cannot be overlooked, and should be given a thorough and comprehensive review.
Please note: Utah State Core Curriculum standards have changed for grades K-2 as of 12/2009. These new standards are more extensive and inclusive of key concepts not found in the current grades 3-6 curriculum, which is dated 05/2008. Concepts introduced in the K-2 curriculum are not specifically reinforced in grades 3-6.
Utah Social Studies Core Curriculum Grades 3 – 6
Four areas of focus are found in the Utah State Curriculum: history; geography; economics; civics. Each area of focus is studies as part of the general theme for the year, i.e. Grade 3 studies community and culture, Grade 4 the State, and Grade 5 the Nation.
Citizenship is discussed once in the introduction “Essential Goals Used in Developing the Elementary Social Studies Core”, and once specifically in the curriculum as in: “Discover the basis for the patriotic and citizenship traditions we have today (i.e. Pledge of Allegiance, flag etiquette, voting)”. The concept of laws is mentioned twice, as in “obedience to laws” and “make laws”. A more comprehensive discussion of laws and their role in citizenship, such as the purpose of rules and laws, in the home, school, community, identifying the benefits of established laws such as providing security and order; the characteristics of good citizenship, such as truthfulness, justice, and examples of historical and other figures, are missing.
The following are NOT specifically mentioned in the curriculum for 3-6 grades in the State of Utah Core Curriculum:
- No historical figure that impacted the founding of the country is mentioned by name, i.e. George Washington, John Adams, etc., nor is any Utah state historical figure mentioned by name. The curriculum discusses “leaders”, as in “Identify representative people from selected revolutions” and “ideas and leaders of the 20th Century”. The only specific people mentioned are “Napoleon, Martin Luther, James Watt, Isaac Newton, Madame Curie, Anton Van Leeuwenhoek”, and figures from the Renaissance era such as “Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Palestrina, Shakespeare, Tallis”. The curriculum stresses events but no specific individuals are listed to be studied.
- Reciting the pledge. The words “recognize”, “identify”, and “demonstrate respect for” are used, but no requirement is listed for “reciting” the pledge.
- A study of the songs, anthems, or mottoes of the US or State of Utah
- Holidays or Patriotic Holidays
- The word “Republic”
- The term “constitutional republic”
- The word “Patriotism”
- The word “President” (as in the US President)
- The word “Congress”
- The term “Founding Fathers”
- The term “free enterprise system”. “Free market system” is used once as in “assess how the free market system in the United States serves as an engine of change and innovation”. It is also a vocabulary word.
- The word “capitalism”.
- The names of Government officials, state or national. Students are only asked to compare the roles and responsibilities of state, county, and local officials.
- The US is referred to as a Representative Government, but there is no name given to the form of representative government (i.e. constitutional republic or democratic republic)
- The word democracy is used numerous times: “In order to participate in civic responsibilities required of participants in democracy”; “Assess differing points of view on the role of the US as a world power (e.g. influencing the spread of democracy..)”; “Benchmark: The modern world has witnessed incredible change in global trade, the spread of democracy, the influence of technology, an increase in environmental awareness and advances in human knowledge”. It is also used as a vocabulary word. No information is given however to the specific form of government of the United States, other than discussing a representative government. The idea of a constitutional republic is never mentioned, leaving the idea that democracy is the form, not just a process, idea, or value.
Texas Curriculum Standards for Social Studies Grades K-5
The following words, concepts and phrases are found in the new Texas curriculum. (See, The new Texas curriculum (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies, Subchapter A, Elementary. Approved for second reading and final adoption.)
This is for K-5 curriculum. Much of the following is introduced in Kindergarten, and reiterated and built upon throughout the following years.
Eight areas of focus are found in the Texas Social Studies Curriculum: government, citizenship; history; geography; economics; culture; science, technology and society; social studies skills. Each area of focus is studied as part of the general theme for the school year, i.e. Grade 3 studies community and world, Grade 4 studies Texas history, Grade 5 studies the history of the United States.
- Introduces and emphasizes the study of historical figures such as Washington, Adams, Texas historical figures, etc. and mentions them specifically by name, throughout the curriculum. In Grade 3 alone, 10 historical men and women are to be taught specifically, along with groups of individuals, such as the “Founding Fathers”. See Texas curriculum website for a list of individuals included for study in the curriculum. Table 1 contains individuals to be “included” in the curriculum. Table 2 is designated as “such as” in the curriculum.
- Teaches the Pledge of Allegiance, it’s meaning, and uses the word “recite”.
- Students identify anthems and mottoes of the United States and the State of Texas.
- Discusses celebrating and understanding patriotic holidays such as Veterans Day, Independence Day, Presidents Day, Constitution Day, etc.
- Uses the word “patriotism”, as in : “enables students to understand the importance of patriotism”.
- They give intensive study during one specific week per year to the founding documents of the country. This week is called “Celebrate Freedom Week”, wherein; Each social studies class shall include, during Celebrate Freedom Week as provided under the TEC, §29.907, or during another full school week as determined by the board of trustees of a school district, appropriate instruction concerning the intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, in their historical contexts. The study of the Declaration of Independence must include the study of the relationship of the ideas expressed in that document to subsequent American history, including the relationship of its ideas to the rich diversity of our people as a nation of immigrants, the American Revolution, the formulation of the U.S. Constitution, and the abolitionist movement, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation and the women’s suffrage movement. (B) Each school district shall require that, during Celebrate Freedom Week or other week of instruction prescribed under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, students in Grades 3-12 study and recite the following text: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness–That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”
- The term “Founding Fathers” is used, names are used, and students are to identify them and explain the contributions they made in the development of the national government.
- The terms “President” and “Congress” are used, as in: “identify past and present leaders in the national government, including the president and selected members of Congress” and “name current public officials, including mayor, governor, and president”.
- The terms and meanings of a free enterprise system, and capitalism, are to be identified, as in: “Students identify the role of the U.S. free enterprise system within the parameters of this course and understand that this system may also be referenced as capitalism or the free market system.” Students learn the character and benefits of the system, describe the development of the system within the state and nation, and how the system works.
- Citizenship is a specific component of the curriculum. Characteristics of good citizenship are discussed, examples of historical and contemporary figures who exemplify good citizenship are given, and students are encouraged to actively participate in the democratic process*. “Citizenship: The student understands characteristics of good citizenship as exemplified by historical figures and other individuals. The student is expected to: identify characteristics of good citizenship, such as a belief in truthfulness, justice, equality, respect for oneself and others, responsibility in daily life, and participation in government by educating oneself about the issues, respectfully holding public officials to their word, and voting.”
- The word “democratic” is used only in the following context: “…and appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation as referenced in the Texas Education Code.” The word democracy is not used. (Note: I am not advocating for removing this term, but rather for placing it within the appropriate context.)
- The curriculum clearly and repeatedly discusses the US form of government as a constitutional republic.
*(this is the second of two times that the word “democratic” is used, the other is “democratic values” as in “appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation”)
There’s been a lot of misreporting by the media around the country (shocker…) about the new Texas history standards including reporting that Thomas Jefferson has been removed from the standards. That is utterly false. The only person to get more attention than Jefferson is, appropriately, George Washington. Here are a few resources to get the scoop on their standards, which frankly, Utah ought to adopt. Texas’ goal in these standards was to create the most factual standards in the country and to expunge revisionist history such as what ASD linked to in their infamous William Meyers link.
Here are articles and links to learn more if you’d like to.
TX state board member Gail Lowe explains some of the misreporting and shares this closing comment:
A critical skill Texas students should develop as part of their education is the ability to analyze information from primary source documents. This should be a requirement for journalists, too. Many seem to have jumped to erroneous conclusions without even examining the actual curriculum standards. One can disagree ideologically with the State Board of Education, but the TEKS standards themselves should be the point of reference for objective, thorough reporting.
Next, the TEA (appropriate acronym for Texas Education Agency) released this correction of some items floating around in the news, with these quote corrections from FOX news:
Last, here is a link to actual changes in the standards. If you open the 6-8 grade pdf and search for the word Republic, it’s everywhere. You can also see a list of important people that are taught by grade level which is kind of cool. A lot of these names are people I’ve never heard of, though some may just be important Texans, but I’m sure they’re all worth knowing.
Wow, WoW, and WOW! Check out this awesome article on the new Texas standards voted in by the State Board of Education.
Texas curriculum standards will henceforth accurately describe the U.S. government as a “constitutional republic” rather than as a democracy. The secularists tried to remove reference to the religious basis for the founding of America, but that was voted down.
Not only do they correct this simple point, but they really go for the gold on a whole host of other changes. I think we ought to just adopt Texas’ history standards right now! :) Here’s some other highlights. Read the rest of this entry »
Friday morning I returned to the State School Board since last month I delivered the petition and had not heard back from them. Audio of this event will be available next week online and I will post the relevant part to this site. In short, I delivered a document to each board member as well as shared a couple quick thoughts.
I shared the story I received from a parent this week that her child overheard two teachers in the hallway talking to each other. One said to the other, “everyone’s saying we’re a Republic, but we’re not, we’re a Democracy.”
I also shared the statement by Thomas Jefferson that a Republic is the only form of government that is not at open war with the rights of man.
Superintendent Shumway and I had spoken in the capitol a few weeks ago and had a nice conversation on this topic, though we have a differing of opinion. He shared a quote from Ronald Reagan where Reagan called us a Democracy and I countered that that just shows how far gone the word has deteriorated. I mentioned how if you look in the dictionary (link) you’ll find two definitions for the word Democracy, one being the original meaning, and one meaning just the opposite which sounds like a Republic. Read the rest of this entry »
I received a copy of this letter that was sent to the individual tasked with writing the K-2 social studies standards. I know this person received at least 50 letters with suggestions to do various things such as lighten up on the diversity emphasis, incorporate more of the constitution (which the letter below is excellent for and would have been very easy to incorporate), implementation of notions of natural law, great people in American history, and of course teaching what a Republic is.
[name of state standards writer],
It was good to meet you last week at the Springville meeting. I’ve been studying your document. I’m amazed at all the hard work you have put into it. It will make it very easy to incorporate.
I have have few suggestions. The U.S. Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence are the foundation of our moral code in the United States. It seems that the goal of the Social Studies Core is help children become citizens that respect the rights of other regardless of race, religion, culture and so forth. To teach that requires a foundation based on rule of law. In our country the Declaration of Independence teaches us we are created equal, no matter what race, religion, culture and so forth. The Constitution is the rule of law that protects our rights and teaches us to treat all people with respect. I believe it would strengthen the Elementary Core Curriculum to include some easy to understand foundational principles from those documents. I suggest the addition of the following sentences:
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 1 (Culture): Objective 1 e. Explain that the Declaration of Independence teaches us all people should be treated with respect because they are equal.
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 2 (Citizenship): Objective 1 f. Explain that the U.S. Constitution teaches us to respect the rights of others.
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 4 (FInancial Literacy) e. Explain that the U.S. Constitution authorized the Congress to coin our money and set the value of it.
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 4 (Financial Literacy) Objective 1: e. Explain that the U.S. Constitution protects our right to earn money and buy the goods and services we want.
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 4 (Citizenship) Objective 2 g. Explain that the U. S. Constitution helps us to be responsible citizens by teaching us to respect the rights of others.
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 4 (Citizenship) Objective 2 h. Explain that the U. S. Constitution helps us to be responsible citizens by teaching us to take responsibility for our own actions.
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 1 (Culture): Objective 1 d. Explain how the Bill of Rights teaches us to respect the traditions and and customs of others.
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 2 (Citizenship): Objective 2 e Explain how the U.S. Constitution protects our right to vote for whom we want.
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 4 (Financial Literacy): Objective 2 f. Explain how the U.S. Constitution limits what services the government can provide.
Self, Family, and Classroom, Standard 4 (Financial Literacy): Objective 2 g. Explain how the U.S. Constitution protects us so we can offer the goods and services we choose to.
Now look at what the Core Knowledge program by E.D. Hirsche promotes for K-2 social studies (used by homeschoolers and many of Utah’s Charter Schools) and then compare it to the newly approved Utah social studies standards. Note in particular the American history content at each grade level. No contest.
Here’s a copy of the K-2 Utah Social Studies Standards. They are in public comment phase at this time. Please read them and make comments on how they could be improved either here or on the Facebook group for this project at (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=174425832671)