Browsing articles in "Curriculum + Standards"
May 6, 2011
ELW

Comments on US History Standards from an Attorney and Teacher of the Constitution

As promised in our last alert, here are the comments on the high school US History Standards by Education Liberty Watch Board member Marjorie Holsten, an attorney and teacher of the US Constitution for home schooled students.  The third draft of the social studies standards is now available for a final public comment period.  Comments may be submitted here UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON MAY 8TH.

INTRODUCTION:

As an Attorney who has taught Constitutional Law to homeschooled high students at local homeschool co-operatives for a number of years, I was anxious to review the content of Minnesota’s new proposed Social Studies Standards for senior high students.  I hoped to see studies of the founding documents of our nation, including discussions of how the checks and balances our founding fathers drafted were intended to limit the power of government to allow people to fully enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without governmental interference.  I knew I would be disappointed by the content, but was unprepared to have my breath taken away by the amount of historical revisionism, liberal bias, and politically correct indoctrination.  I cannot help but think of the statement of Hans Schemm from the Nazi Teacher’s League who said, “Those who have the youth on their side control the future.'”

The Social Studies Standards have four sections:  U.S. History, World History, Geography, and Economics.  The U.S. History Section is by far the worst and is the only topic covered in this article.

GENERAL COMMENTS:

The word “analyze” appears 26 times in the U.S. History Standards, and the word “evaluate” appears four times.  The acts of “analyzing” and “evaluating” require students not only to learn and understand material, but also to make judgments.  When students are given only a limited amount of information, and what they are given is one-sided, any judgment they make will be skewed.  It is inappropriate to require students to do so much analyzing and evaluating under these circumstances.  In contrast, the World History section uses the word “analyze” only 7 times, and uses the word “describe” 36 times. (Obviously there were two different authors, with the author of the U.S. History being far to the left of the author of the World History Section.)

EXPLORATION:

The first section on U.S. History is appropriately titled, “U.S. History – Beginning to 1620.”  1620 was a landmark year in our nation’s history, as that was when Pilgrims in search of religious freedom landed at Plymouth Rock.   Stunningly, the standards make no mention of the Pilgrims.  Instead, attention is focused on people “forced to relocate to the colonies.”  (§9.1.4.2.3)  Students are asked to describe the indigenous peoples before European colonization (§9.1.3.1.1), and then “analyze the consequences of early interactions between Europeans and indigenous nations.”  (§9.1.4.1.1)  This is followed by a requirement that students analyze the impacts of colonial government on “enslaved populations.”  (§9.1.4.2.1)  Students then study “the exploitation of enslaved people” (§ 9.1.4.3.1), “the development of non-free labor systems,” and “the experiences of enslaved peoples.”  (§9.1.4.3.2).  It gets worse.

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May 6, 2011
ELW

Please Comment!! Social Studies Standards Continue Disastrous Course in Final Draft!

The third draft of the social studies standards is now available for a final public comment period.  Comments may be submitted here until May 8th.

Although some good change has come out of the social studies standards process which is now in its final phases, thanks to your good efforts and comments, sadly, many of the same problems plus some others we have found are present since our last report. A more detailed report on the U.S. History strand is coming soon from an attorney who teaches the Constitution.  Below are some highlights and lowlights.

Some Good News:

1)      The Declaration of Independence is now mentioned and discussed at the high school level:

“Analyze the impact of early documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, on the development of the government of the United States.”

2)      One Declaration principle of “popular sovereignty,” also called “consent of the governed” is specifically mentioned.

3)      Property rights are mentioned in the context of the failure to secure them being an economic problem.

4)      The Second Amendment is mentioned, which is better than the federally subsidized civics textbook. We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution that fails to mention the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments at all.

5)      Capitalism is now mentioned in a neutral context instead of a negative one in economics and the world history strands:

“Compare and contrast the characteristics of traditional, command (planned), market-based (capitalistic), and mixed economic systems.”
“Explain the ideas of capitalism, communism, and socialism and analyze the impact of these beliefs on politics, industry, and labor relations in later 19th-century Europe.”

6)      The United States is still referred to as a republic in the standards and benchmarks:

“The U.S. republic is based on specific principles and beliefs.” (Standard)

Many Grave Causes of Concern – Here is a far from comprehensive list: Continue reading »

Mar 24, 2011
ELW

School Choice Testimony

3/14/11 – Dr Effrem testified before the MN House Education Finance Committee in support of the idea of school choice for K-12, but against the mandates placed on the private school in the MN House Education Finance Committee (HF 273 – Woodard) (Audio is available here by following the link for the March 14th hearing starting at 2:02:23)

3/17/11 – Dr. Effrem testified in favor of SF 388 (Nienow), because, because unlike its House counterpart (HF 273 above) it offers school choice without imposing the public school tests and standards and other mandates on the private schools.  (Audio is available here by following the link for the March 17th Education Committee hearing starting at 50:48)

 

 

 

Mar 20, 2011
ELW

Studies on Effectiveness of Early Childhood Programs

FADE OUT:

“Institutionalized messages surrounding ECE claim that it has the potential to promote children’s life-long success, especially among low-income children. I examine the legitimacy of these claims by reviewing empirical evidence that bears on them and find that most are based on results of a small set of impressive but outdated studies. More recent literature reveals positive, short-term effects of ECE programs on children’s development that weaken over time.”  – Lowenstein, Journal of Educational Policy, January 2011 – Emphasis added

“As with the 4-year-old cohort, there was no strong evidence of impacts on children’s language, literacy, or math measures at the end of kindergarten or at the end of 1st grade.” (Head Start Impact Study, Executive Summary, January 15, 2010, p. 21)

“…the achievement impact of preschool appears to diminish during the first four years of school…preschool alone may have limited use as a long-term strategy for improving the achievement gap…”  – Rumberger, et. al, UCSB, 1/06, pp. 79-80

Using data from the (ELCS), researchers concluded that preschool has a positive impact on reading and mathematics scores in the short term and a negative effect on behavior. While the positive academic impacts mostly fade away by the spring of the first grade, the negative effects persist into the later grades.  (Katherine A. Magnuson, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, “Does Prekindergarten Improve School Preparation and Performance?” National Bureau of Economic Research, April 2004)

Also using the ECLS data, Lisa Hickman at Ohio University, compared children in center care with children who were taught at home. She found that center care children had higher math and reading skills and poorer social skills prior to kindergarten entry. In first grade, however, preschool participants’ cognitive advantage disappeared and their social skills deteriorated.  (Lisa N. Hickman, “Who Should Care for Our Children? The Effects of Home Versus Center Care on Child Cognition and Social Adjustment,” Journal of Family Issues 27 (May 2006: 652-684)

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