Sadly, this bias is reflected in the NCSS's National Standards for Social Studies Teachers. These social studies curriculum standards, ironically, are called "Expectations of Excellence" and are used by state education authorities throughout the country in formulating their own state standards. They are based on ten "themes," such as "Time,
Continuity, and Change" and "Global Connections." Disturbingly, as Kay Hymowitz points out, this "yawning list of 'performance expectations'... includes no American history, no major documents, and only a smattering of references to government." Hymowitz is right. A read-through of the "standards" shows they are so general as to be meaningless. Such non-specific criteria can hardly be considered standards, which may help to explain why our students are so ignorant of history.
Even after the standards were implemented, national test scores remained abysmally low, as revealed when the Education Department released scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) tests, referred to by many as "the nation's report card." The results of the 2001 NAEP tests showed that a startlingly low percentage of fourth graders are proficient in history (eighteen percent)-let alone the other major disciplines: reading (thirty-two percent), math (twenty-six percent), and science (twenty-nine percent). Only seventeen percent of eighth graders scored "proficient" in history and a dismal eleven percent of twelfth-grade history students ranked "proficient." And in case you're wondering about the other nine grades, don't. Only fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders were tested as sample groups." Focusing on history, the Washington Post reported that these deplorable history test results occurred though the number of states who adopted the standards "doubled in the 1990s from twenty to forty-six."
So much for the NCSS's teaching students those things "necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy." Historian Diane Ravitch, a member of the National Assessment Government Board overseeing the NAEP, understood the implications of these test results. "Since the seniors are very close to voting age..." said Ravitch, "one can only feel alarm that they know so little about ... history and express so little capacity to reflect on its meaning." This is hardly surprising, considering that our students are denied instruction on essential facts about America's founding and that their textbooks, as documented by Dr. Paul Vitz, notably lack patriotic stories. Indeed, how can we expect anything different from students who are spoon-fed the type of anti-American bilge on display at the NCSS annual conference and which was so clearly reflected in their national standards? This group not only doesn't inspire the study of American history by instilling national pride. It actively discourages it, by often placing America in a bad light.
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