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November 3, 2007
National Multicultural Curriculum Standards
The No Child Left Behind draft reauthorization now before Congress calls for states to revise their standards and assessments to be aligned with existing national and international "postsecondary education and work readiness skills." The following article out of Texas is a good description of what that exactly means. (See also, "New NCLB Plan Establishes International Education For All.")
From this article:
"The document explicitly states that the new standards do not emphasize learning facts."
This is transformational education, which is the basis of the national curriculum standards, another term for "world-class standards." The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is built upon these multicultural educational curriculum standards, including fuzzy math.
Excerpt from this article:
"Any history standards document that substitutes pillars such as the U.S. Constitution and The Magna Carta for air-headed multiculturalism diversity mush should be deposited in the nearest trash bin,"
Leo said. "The draft is so awful that I call upon the commissioner to start completely over or face clear opposition from this member when the draft reaches the State Board of Education."
[EdWatch note: Ms. Leo intended to say that any history standards in which air-headed multicultural diversity mush are substituted for pillars such as the U.S. Constitution and the Magna Carta should be deposited in the nearest trash bin.]
The Lone Star Report, Nov. 3, 2007, Volume 12, Issue 13
College readiness standards: more multiculturalism, fewer facts
by William Lutz
Texas high school students will be learning a lot about multiculturalism and political correctness, if new teams of college and high school faculty created by the Legislature's 2006 school reform bill get their way.
The Higher Education Coordinating Board released for public comment Oct. 25 draft college readiness standards to be added to the state's high school curriculum. The document is posted on the coordinating board's website and includes standards in English, social studies, science, and mathematics. The public can comment online until Dec. 10 by going to http://www.thecb.state.tx.us.
The social studies standards are likely to prove the most controversial. These include a whole section (out of five) dedicated to "Diverse Human Perspectives and Experiences." [EdWatch: See also, The Seamless Web: Minnesota's New Education System, 1999, Chapter 4, "The Diversity Package."] Meanwhile, the standards contain almost nothing about economics and very little about understanding the basics about American culture, values, and civilization.
The document explicitly states that the new standards do not emphasize learning facts. "The Vertical Teams (VTs) chose deliberately not to identify lists of facts that students must master to be ready for college," the document states. This should not be interpreted to mean that students should not be mastering a range of specific information about social systems and phenomena. Instead, the standards assume that students will utilize their understanding of events, social systems, and human behavior to develop greater insight into how the various parts fit together into a more unified whole and into how seemingly contradictory explanations or points of view can be analyzed for greater understanding instead of simply taking sides.
Accordingly, the Declaration of Independence is mentioned only once in the proposed standards. Students are told they need to "Analyze the Declaration of Independence from the perspective of men and women, and people of Native American, European, and African descent."
While the standards are vague about what college-bound students need to know about history, they are anything but vague when diversity issues are involved. Students are not expected to understand the development of English common law and its impact on the United States or, for example, the causes of the American revolution, but they are directed to "Identify the different racial and ethnic classifications used by the U.S. Census Bureau" and "Describe and list several examples of Latino contributions to U.S. popular culture since 1980" and "Assess how concepts of ethnicity have been used to allow one group to dominate another." [EdWatch: See also " Education for Democracy."]
Ronald Reagan gets no mention, but students are expected to "Listen to Martin Luther King, Jr's 'I Have a Dream' speech and summarize five main points."
Though not expected to know anything about supply and demand, supply-side economics, or Adam Smith, students are to "Write an analytical essay that predicts how climate change might affect the economy of the United States."
It is important to note that the college readiness standards are meant to be in addition to the regular curriculum, and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills does contain some specific facts in history that students are expected to know.
The existing high school curriculum, however, does not cover early American history, which is in the eighth grade curriculum. Early American history is sometimes covered in high school, the Legislature in 1999 having directed its inclusion in the states testing program.
This whole process started in 2006, when lawmakers were concerned that a large number of students had to take remedial courses in college.
The school finance bill adopted that year -- HB 1 -- contained a provision directing the Commissioner of Education and the Commissioner of Higher Education to appoint vertical teams -- consisting of college and public school faculty members. The teams would review the curriculum and propose college readiness standards to be added to it. (The members of the vertical teams that produced the social studies standards were appointed by current Commissioner of Higher Education Raymond Paredes and former Commissioner of Education Shirley Neeley. Neeley has since been replaced as Commissioner of Education by Robert Scott.)
Several members of the State Board of Education expressed concerns that the provision might inadvertently take power away from the elected board to write the curriculum.(see LSR, May 5, 2006).
In response to these concerns, the bill was amended to state explicitly that it is not intended to remove any power from the elected board.
Even that did not completely satisfy board member Terri Leo (R-Spring) and delegates to the 2006 Republican State Convention, which added language to the platform not acted on by the Legislature calling for the repeal of the vertical teams.
"This is one I told you so that I wish had not come true," said Leo. "I received enormous criticism from Republican leadership in the Legislature when I tried to get them to do away with the vertical teams provisions of HB1. It should be no surprise to them that the draft is clearly in direct opposition to the Republican platform. The legislation passed basically mandates that the high school history standards writing team would consist in part of nutty professors in liberal academia with personal agendas. This is another case why all curriculum authority should be returned to the elected, and therefore accountable, State Board of Education."
The vertical teams create draft college readiness standards. These standards are then submitted to the Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Commissioner of Education for approval. If both approve, the standards are then forwarded to the State Board of Education, which makes the final decision on how to amend the states curriculum.
In the 2006 election, the state board moved significantly to the right. Seven of the boards 15 members are now part of the socially conservative bloc often associated with David Bradley (R-Beaumont). Several others hold conservative views, even if they don't always vote with the bloc. Unlike 1997 the last time the curriculum was up for revision -- this board is highly unlikely to approve anything politically correct.
"Any history standards document that substitutes pillars such as the U.S. Constitution and The Magna Carta for air-headed multiculturalism diversity mush should be deposited in the nearest trash bin," Leo said. "The draft is so awful that I call upon the commissioner to start completely over or face clear opposition from this member when the draft reaches the State Board of Education."
One interesting question on the social studies standards is what will prove more controversial -- what's in the standards or what's not. The absence of significant coverage of economics, The Federalist, the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, or the Magna Carta will certainly attract opposition.
Certainly much of whats in will provoke opposition from conservatives -- homosexuality, for example.
Students are directed to "Analyze how various Supreme Court decisions or federal government initiatives have shaped individual or group identities over time (e.g., Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lawrence v. Texas)." The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the Texas ban on homosexual sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas. Students are also directed to "Identify examples of how gender is socially constructed." [EdWatch: See also "Pro-gay Bias In Teacher Training" and "The Anti-Bias Curriculum."]
Students are also invited to talk about illegal immigration in several places in the draft standards. One such standard invites students to "Provide a historical perspective of xenophobia and its impact on immigration policies in the United States." [EdWatch: See also " Erasing Borders."]
A few of the standards could be classified as basic skills, such as one that encourages students to write papers using standard citation formats to document sources or several standards that discuss drawing and reading maps. Most standards, nevertheless, focus on things political, which means the political arena is likely where these standards will be debated.
The social studies standards are likely to attract the most attention, but different vertical teams also produced college readiness standards in English, science, and mathematics.
The mathematics standards have drawn fire from Dr. Wayne Bishop, a mathematics professor at the California State University, Los Angeles, and one of the leaders of Mathematically Correct, a grass-roots organization that fights for traditional mathematics standards, rather than "fuzzy" standards that prioritize thinking about math over the ability to do math.
"The content requirements are far from clear in the proposed document, and those that are present are surrounded by education industry fluff," Bishop said in written comments. [EdWatch: See also, "If we really hope to improve math education."]
In addition to the legislature's vertical teams, Gov. Rick Perry has appointed the Commission for a College Ready Texas, which will look at the curriculum and college readinesss standards and assist the vertical teams in developing college readiness standards. The commission, meeting in Austin Nov. 7, will unveil its draft report, which is not the same as the vertical teams report.
2003, The Lone Star Foundation
10711 Burnet Road, Suite 333 Austin, TX 78758 (888) 472-6051
For more information on this subject, order
FedEd: The New Federal Curriculum and How Its Enforced (book, DVD, CD, or VHS) and
" Textbook Review of We the People: The Citizens and the Constitution "
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