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Review of the California Academic Standards
History-Social Science, grade 8

February 13, 2004

The following review of the California Academic Standards in history and social science have been written in response to numerous requests. This review is based on the 8th grade United States history. .

The California history and social science standards are based on the Center for Civic Education's (CCE) National Standards for Civics and Government. While the California standards have a veneer of respectability, it is the same veneer as in "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" (WTP), written and published by the CCE and based on their National Standards for Civics and Government. (For a review of WTP textbook and how it undermines the founding principles of our country, see "Inside the New Federal Curriculum," at http://www.edwatch.org .)

The following items demonstrate how the California standards are based on "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution," written by the CCE:

    1. The Declaration of Independence is identified as a "philosophy," not as consisting of "principles":

    The California standards never identify the founding principles within the Declaration of Independence as "principles," but rather, they are referred to throughout the standards merely as a "political philosophy" or as "ideals." The California standards describe the U.S. Constitution, in contrast, as consisting of "political principles." This is consistent with WTP, which describes the Declaration of Independence as the "philosophy" of the founders, but never as containing the foundational principles of our nation. WTP then suggests that, since government is evolving, those ideals may not be relevant today. <A central feature of traditional, knowledge-based education is its insistence that the Declaration of Independence consists of principles and that these principles form the foundation of our Constitution and our government. The radical federal education standards reject both these positions. The California standards follow the federal standards (curriculum), not traditional education standards.

    2. The three basic principles of the Declaration of Independence:

    The Declaration of Independence identifies twelve pillars of freedom upon which the liberty of our country is based. Among them are the first three: national sovereignty, natural law and self-evident truth. The other pillars of freedom follow from the first three. Without these three fundamental principles, our rights have no foundation. Why, for example, do all people have a right to life? The reason is because the right to life is part of the universal moral code that governs all people (natural law). These three foundational principles are absent from the California standards. They are out of sight and out of mind. The primary difference between the radical education system of the Federal Curriculum and traditional, knowledge-based education is the issue of national sovereignty. By omitting national sovereignty, the California standards align themselves with the radical side.

    3."Civic Republicanism':

    The California standards use the term 'civic republicanism" in place of the word "republic." Most people understand a "republic" to mean government by elected representation. WTP, however, defines "civic republicanism" as placing the "common good" above "individual rights." Unless defined otherwise, the standards will use the WTP definition. ("Civic republicanism" is code language to education insiders.) Far from reflecting the principles of the founders, placing the common good above individual rights violates the principles of the Declaration of Independence, which states that the primary purpose of government is to protect individual and unalienable rights. In addition, our rights cannot be "unalienable" if the common good, which will always be defined by government, has a higher priority than our rights. The California standards' view of rights is the internationalist position as embodied in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not the American position.

    4. Enumerated and reserved powers:

    The California standards follow WTP in describing the Constitutional powers of the federal government as being "enumerated and implied." The correct distinction according to our Constitution is that of "enumerated and reserved.' The U.S. Constitution states that "the powers not delegated [enumerated] to the United States by the Constitution…are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people" (Amendment 10).The concept of "reserved" powers does not exist in the California standards. They are replaced with another kind of federal power, the "implied' powers. The principle of Constitutionally reserved powers is the primary restraint on expansive federal authority, and, in both WTP and the California standards, it is absent. This de-emphasis or elimination of the Tenth Amendment is another characteristic of the radical national standards.

    5. Fundamental liberties:

    The California standards describe the Bill of Rights as ensuring "fundamental," rights, rather than "inherent" or "unalienable" rights. This is consistent with WTP which dispenses with the idea of inherent rights, and substitutes the term "fundamental" or "basic" in its place. Inherent rights may not be taken away by government, while fundamental rights are always subject to removal by government on the grounds that the "common good" supposedly requires it. The Constitution of Cuba takes this form.

    6. Foundations of the American political system:

    The California standards and WTP refuse to identify the Declaration of Independence as the foundation of America's political system. They refer instead to the federal and state constitutions and various ordinances as supposedly providing the foundation of our government. As noted above, the principles of the Declaration of Independence form the actual foundation for our nation. The same is true for the Declaration of Independence as a document. Another important characteristic of the radical Federal Curriculum is its denial or avoidance of the truth that the Declaration of Independence is a founding document of our nation.

    7. Process-based learning

    Most of the California standards are process-based as opposed to being knowledge-based. Three-fourths of the standards require students to "analyze" (process) without first requiring that students must "know" or "understand" (knowledge). Knowledge-based education requires students to know something, have some information, before they are in a position to analyze. Process-based education is geared toward transforming a student's worldview, rather than imparting a base of knowledge from which a student can form sound judgments. The national standards emphasize process at the expense of knowledge. They are process-based, not knowledge-based.

    8. Capitalism creates problems and conflicts:

    The California standards define free enterprise in America as being "the rise of capitalism," which is then only described in terms of various problems and conflicts. Missing are any references to the importance of free enterprise. Also missing is any reference to the right of private property. Another mark of the Federal Curriculum is its negative view of free enterprise and private property.

    9. Diversity:

    Over 25% of the California standards require the teaching of diversity (political multiculturalism). This transforms social studies into diversity training. The California standards use the term "divergent paths" (diversity) an amazing 17 times. As John Fonte and others have pointed out, the national history standards are really the national standards for teaching multiculturalism, not for teaching genuine history.

    10. Transformation of America:

    The California standards use the term “transformation” nine times. “Transformation” is code language for the entire new education system which includes the Federal Curriculum. Shirley McCune, for example, commonly refers to the “transformation” of America. “Transformational” education is defined by Shirley McCune as being: “A major task of education is to extend the worldview of the child; this should include a view of careers, of the community, our nation and our global community.” The overall difference between traditional, knowledge-based education and the new, radical education system is this: Traditional education intends to educate the child; radical education intends to transform our children and our nation into something totally different. It is not by accident that the California standards use the word “transformation” so many times.

    The California standards in the other K-12 levels are consistent with these 8thth grade standards and the issues itemized above.