Thursday, February 20, 2014

Revised Social Studies Standards: New York Edition

The focus of our last entry was on the newly revised and suggested Social Studies Framework for States to use and adapt into their own Standards.

We thought we would highlight one such State who has taken these newly revised suggestions and gone above and beyond.  

New York.

The State of New York has been proud to be the leader in promoting and implementing all things Common Core.  After all, the State received $700M of the $4.3B available from the Obama 2009 bribe  stimulus money.  New York also decided to subject students to the new Common Core exam at the end of last year, even though the Standards had not been fully implemented.  All so that proponents can claim our children are woefully unprepared.  And when parents complained, they were told by the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, that they were just a bunch of "white, suburban moms" who were having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that their kids aren't as smart as we thought they were.


We read all 93 pages of the New York Social Studies Standards.  Our findings are as follows:  

There are repetitive themes of oppression, human rights, and human impact on the environment throughout the Social Studies Standards.  From Kindergarten, students are taught to recognize differences in others such as race, gender, and ethnicity.  They are taught that they have "basic universal rights or protections as members of a family, school, community, nation, and the world."  They are taught that these rights include "provision of food, clothing, shelter, and education, and protection from abuse, bullying, neglect, exploitation, and discrimination."  Kindergartners are also introduced to the impact of human activity and to identify situations in which social actions are required.  

In the early grades, students are conditioned to respect authority and rules because they "provide for the health and safety of all."  Throughout the early years, students "follow agreed upon rules for discussions" or consensus and collaborative discussions.  Students are to "build on others' talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others."  The collective over-rides the individual.

First graders are taught that we should be responsible citizens of the world. An enormous amount of time is spent on values clarification.  This is achieved through programs such as "Character Education."  First graders learn the word "scarcity" which will continue throughout the grades.  They are also introduced to "needs and wants" and how we have to make choices due to "unlimited needs and wants and scarce resources."  This ties in with the themes of human impact on the environment.

Beginning in Second grade, students are encouraged to continue to point out all of the "differences" between others.  Students are introduced to "population density."  Students are taught some of the symbols of our country but exclude the most important such as our National Anthem, the bald eagle, our nation's seal, the Declaration of Independence or our Constitution.  The Standards continually refer to our form of government as a "Democracy" (democratic principles, Constitutional Democracy, democratic society).  It isn't until Eighth grade that the word "Republic" is used...once.

Second graders are taught that we have an obligation to make and enforce only "fair" laws and rules that provide for the "common good."  Students are also taught that they have an obligation to serve in their community and this continues throughout all grades.  A lot of time is spent on community service opportunities including working with non profits.  Second graders are also introduced to the concept of "taxes" and that they are "collected to provide communities with goods and services."  They are then taught the importance of the workers in the community and why our taxes are important to fund these jobs (teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers, and police) who all happen to be members of large unions.

Third graders spend a lot of time on human impacts on the environment, human rights activism, and social change.  They study other countries around the world and their holidays and festivals as well as how they "meet its basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, and compare that to their own community."  They are introduced to the words "prejudice" and "discrimination" and how they serve as "barriers to justice and equality for all people."  More discussion is made about "surplus and scarcity" in relation to resources for each world community.

Fourth graders learn about their own State history.  For our example, this year is spent studying New York.  Since New York played a major role in the founding of the country, one might think that this would be emphasized. However, while they do examine issues of political and economic rights that led to the American Revolution, omitted from the discussion are any of the Founding Fathers (particularly Hamilton who was from New York), nor is there any mention of the Declaration of Independence.  Most of the year is spent on the Women's Suffrage movement and the Seneca Conference in upstate New York.  This topic is discussed in every year through Eighth grade.  Fourth graders continue to learn about being "responsible citizens" and obeying rules which include traffic safety, "see something-say something" and anti-bullying but nothing on the laws of the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

Fifth graders are encouraged to participate in activism opportunities which focus on a classroom, school, community, state, or national issues.  They are to identify the role of the individual only in terms of opportunities for social and political participation and situations in which social actions are required. They are taught to work to influence those in positions of power to strive for freedom, social justice, and human rights.  This can be done by working with multinational organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs, UN, etc).  Students this year "examine" the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and Bill of Rights but only alongside the British North America Act, and the Canadian Bill of Rights and compare/contrast key values, beliefs and principles.

Seventh and Eighth graders study the history of the United States and more of the State of New York.  There is no mention of any of the Founders or that Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention.  There is no discussion about Federalists or Anti-Federalists.  Students are required to identify the individual rights of citizens that are protected by the Bill of Rights.  No other Constitutional Amendments, outside of the 19th and women's suffrage, are discussed.  Students only have to locate major battles of the Civil War but not read the Gettysburg Address.

In Eighth grade, students learn more about "population density" as well as "nativism" and anti-immigration policies.  They learn about union labor including the International Workers of the World. Students are taught that during the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl was caused by man-made environmental conditions.  Students are introduced to the United Nations.  They are also taught that "an aging population is affecting the economy and straining public resources" as they discuss the Baby Boom generation and how they are causing an increase in demand for social security and health care.  (throwing granny off the cliff)

Eighth graders also learn about the impact of pollution and population growth.  They learn more about the civil rights movement and activists such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.  This movement then prompted renewed efforts by the farm workers, Native Americans, the disabled, and the LGBT community.  Students learn the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.  They examine state and federal regulations in response to increased gun violence, cyber-bullying, and electronic surveillance as well as in the areas of health care and education.  Students are also taught that "terrorist groups not representing any Nation" were the ones responsible for reshaping political alliances and conflicts sparking 9/11.

Names, words, or phrases that are not found anywhere in the new New York Social Studies Standards:

Magna Carta
the Mayflower
George Washington
James Madison
Samuel Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Franklin
John Adams
Paul Revere
Daniel Webster
Boston Tea Party
Valley Forge
Washington crossing of the Delaware
Battle of Bunker Hill
The Great Compromise
Francis Scott Key
Jay Treaty
Abraham Lincoln
Gettysburg Address/Battle of Gettysburg
Fort Sumter
the Wright Brothers
Alexander Graham Bell
John Browning
Samuel Morse
Eli Whitney
Jonas Salk
Henry Ford
Amelia Earhart
Charles Lindburgh
Robert E. Lee
Ulysses S. Grant
Dwight Eisenhower
George Patton
Any other Constitutional Amendment other than the 16th and 19th

American exceptionalism is so....history.