Continental divide

Michigan's state Department of Education last week finally introduced its proposed curriculum for k-12 social studies. Although the plan has strong points--greater rigor and more focus on preparing students for college--it is also a classic case of political correctness run amok. One outrageous example is the demand that elementary students taking American history spend several months studying African history before beginning to learn about colonial America. Why? "Developers obsessed," says the Detroit News, "over how elementary school students would perceive the relationship between the first European colonists and Native Americans, and whether they would understand why African-Americans arrived in the United States on slave ships." But the teaching of U.S. history is about teaching, well, U.S. history--the key individuals, institutions, and ideas that forged America. Obviously, this should include honest discussions about slavery, its African roots, and Europeans' first contacts with Native Americans. A rational approach would reserve world history for world history class. But this and some other parts of Michigan's plan are more about politics than education. And that has no place in the classroom.

"Drop political games from social studies plan," Detroit News, September 17, 2007