The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is in the process of overhauling the curriculum for North Carolina Public Schools. The DPI has asked for feedback on the proposed curriculum through February 15, 2010. I reviewed the proposed curriculum. There is a glaring problem with the proposed history instruction in North Carolina high schools. The proposed curriculum eliminates the teaching of United States history prior to 1877 in North Carolina public schools. A few pre-1877 concepts are covered in other parts of the curriculum, but the proposed curriculum would not teach children:
Who came to the Americas and why
The states were once colonies of England
We fought a war to free ourselves from an imperial crown
We had a lot of discussion of how people in a democracy best rule themselves, culminating in the Constitution.
Death and Displacement of Native Americans
Wars of U.S. Territorial Expansion
I’ve left out many things, but these examples are enough to show that a history class without them is incomplete. The designers of this curriculum explicitly downplay “facts” in exchange for a set of goals that work better when tested on End of Grade EOG exams. I do not believe high school students can achieve any of the educational goals outlined with the bare-bones curriculum proposed.
The new curriculum instead focuses on “themes” that it examines using examples from the late 19th and 20th century. It seeks to teach about the “civil rights” and “social justice” movements of the twentieth century with no factual foundation for why people started these movements. The history curriculum seeks to teach students to evaluate and critique international global action in the twentieth century with no background. For example, students are expected to critique the US decision to return Panama Canal to the Panama government but they aren’t taught about the world that made the transaction. NAFTA is mentioned in the materials but not what created the North American economic model that ultimately brought NAFTA into being. Students are expected to understand changes in the power of government but aren’t taught about the ideas about government power our founders wrestled with and wrote down for posterity.
The course outlines the beliefs of the modern fundamentalist and conservative movements, but nothing that will teach us about the great gift of U.S. Citizenship.
How can students appreciate the special value of U.S. citizenship if they do not know what into creating it? How can they know what the Constitution means if they don’t know how it was born? How can they know what it means to be a citizen in a democracy is if they don’t understand the alternatives?
Here’s the link to the proposed curriculum:
Dr. Holly Brewer and I have started a Facebook page “History did not start in 1877!” Please join if you can. We will have an online petition up and running ASAP and I will update with a link.
Thanks for reading.