Curriculum & Instruction

One of the biggest problems with most states' U.S. history standards is their liberal bias. So found historians Sheldon and Jeremy Stern in their new Fordham study, The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011.

In 2003, at the time of the last Fordham review, many state U.S. history standards were plagued by overtly left-wing political tendentiousness and ideological indoctrination. There has been some retreat from such open bias since then. Nonetheless, more recent standards provide abundant evidence that political correctness remains alive in American classrooms. Lists of specific examples are routinely little more than diversity-driven checklists of historically marginalized groups. North Dakota, in one typical case, offers this slanted, chronologically muddled, and historically nonsensical selection of famous Americans in the early grades: ?George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Susan B. Anthony, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, C?sar Ch?vez, [and] Sacagawea.?

Also widespread in state history standards is politically correct ?presentism??encouraging students to judge the past by present-day moral and political standards, rather than to comprehend past actions, decisions, and motives in the context of their times. Several states, for example, prod students to fault the revolutionary generation for denying full equality to women and blacks?without explaining that in the context of the late eighteenth century, the idea of government based even on the votes of white, property owning males was itself radical and untested.

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Reviewers evaluated state standards for U.S. history in grades K-12. What they found is discouraging: Twenty-eight states—a majority—deserve D or F grades for their academic standards in this key subject. The average grade across all states is a dismal D. Among the few bright spots, South Carolina earns a straight A for its standards and six other jurisdictions—Alabama, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York and the District of Columbia—garner A-minuses. (The National Assessment's "framework" for U.S. history also fares well.) Read on to learn how your state scored.

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Liam Julian

Harvard's Graduate School of Education released today?a report, Pathways to Prosperity, which, to judge by the heft of those who contributed to the document's ?Advance Praise? page (e.g., Joel Klein, Phil Bredesen) and by the U.S. Secretary of Education's presence at the report's Washington, D.C., unveiling, is a big-ish deal. So what does?the thing?say? That the ?college for all? goal, pushed most recently and publicly by President Obama, is unreachable and also,?in establishing, deliberately or otherwise, college completion as the singularly desirable educational outcome, harmful.

Our current system places far too much emphasis on a single pathway to success: attending and graduating from a four-year college after completing an academic program of study in high school. Yet as we've seen, only 30 percent of young adults successfully complete this preferred pathway, despite decades of efforts to raise the numbers. And too many of them graduate from college without a clear conception of the career they want to pursue, let alone a pathway for getting there.

These are not original thoughts. Nonetheless they are thoughts worth repeating, and the report one worth reading. Among?its virtues?is that it is a silo of relevant facts, including details about how other countries have built career and technical education programs, for better and worse. Amending America's educational system and especially its high schools such that pupils who are not enlivened by Shakespeare or Euclid can still flourish seems sensible; and unlike other proposed adjustments to the K-12 system it is not...

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Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

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Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

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Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

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Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

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Gadfly Studios: 

Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

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Each year the Thomas B. Fordham Institute conducts an analysis of urban school performance in Ohio. We found that in 2009-10, 26 percent of public school students (district and charter) in Ohio's Big 8 urban communities attended a school rated A or B by the state, 28 percent attend a C-rated school, and 47 percent attended a school rated D or F.

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