Those who forget the past


"Social studies standards that fail to name people, places, and ideas would be useless."
—Lynne Munson, President and Executive Director of Common Core

In the early 1990s, the National Endowment for
the Humanities and Department of Education moved to create a set of national
history standards, which ended up being controversial for their content and presentation of
material. (NEH chairman Lynne Cheney, who helped launch and pay for this
initiative, later called the resulting standards “grim and gloomy” because they
favored political correctness over accurate historical presentation.) Could
this happen again? A new group of experts (unnamed, as of yet) from eighteen
states recently gathered to discuss common standards for social studies. And
red flags are rightfully being raised. For starters, this initiative is not one
borne of the states themselves—as were the ELA and math common-core standards.
Further, this focus on the amorphous and interdisciplinary “social studies” is
sure to block any disciplinary rigor or intellectual integrity from entering
the would-be standards. As Lynne Munson of Common Core points out, the group’s
“sole product so far is a one-sentence definition of social studies—so
concerned with inclusiveness that it contains eleven commas.” If and when
states come together to create smart and specific U.S. history, or economics,
or world history, or civics standards, count Gadfly on board. But to these
vague umbrella standards, he says, “Buzz off.”

Specialists
Weigh Common Social Studies Standards
,” by Catherine Gewertz, Education Week, May 18, 2011.

Next! Social
Studies
,” by Lynne Munson, Common
Core Blog
, May 18, 2011.

More By Author