NTF ISSUE PAPER: STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION NEW SOCIAL STUDIES STANDARDS: GOOD & BAD

NTF Issue paper: stateboardofed18.doc 5-19.
NEBRASKA TAXPAYERS FOR FREEDOM ISSUE PAPER:
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION NEW SOCIAL STUDIES STANDARDS: GOOD & BAD.

BACKGROUND. Every 7 years, the State Board of Education revises K-12 public school social studies standards. In recent years, conservatives regularly have complained that these standards dilute patriotism and nationalism and trend toward globalism and excessive multiculturalism. NTF has examined the latest draft of social studies revisions and concluded that they contain many positive traditional values, principles, and content but also include principles and content that we consider slanted to the Left and trending towards internationalism and prejudice towards those who follow conservative traditional lifestyles now and our Forefathers who followed the same.

STATE BOARD CRITERIA. Social Studies Standards describe the knowledge and skills students should learn but do not prescribe specific curriculum, lessons, teaching techniques, or activities. Curriculum and textbooks used are decided by individual school districts, thereby allowing local parental and community input. Standards create a framework for teaching and learning and articulate a movement for knowledge acquisition through all grade levels. Thus, student learning builds on prior knowledge and becomes more intensive towards upper grades. Standards describe what students should know and do. They include broad content-based statements that describe the basic cognitive expectations of students. They reflect long-term objectives for learning. Indicators provide guidance for classroom instruction and guidance to assess student learning, intended to prepare them for college, careers, and community life with encouragement to participate as informed and engaged citizens. Districts must adopt these state standards or those of equal quality.

KIDDIEGARDEN: Positive points include children demonstrating citizenship (SS K.1.2) like showing respect, courtesy, and honesty, also learning patriotic symbols, songs, and actions (SS K.1.2.b).e.g., our Flag, Statue of Liberty, and Pledge of Allegiance. Furthermore, (SS K.1.2.c) learning historical background and significance of national holidays like Thanksgiving and President’s Day. Also encouraging, absorbing historical analysis and interpretation (SS K.4.3) like identifying historical people and events such as the life of President George Washington (SS K.4.3). The standards infuse multiculturalism this early into the guidelines, which warrants caution, because some multicultural curricula unduly blame white people in historical events and debase activities conducted by our Founding Fathers.

1st GRADE: Again, the standards accentuate civic participation (SS 1.1.2) by means of exploring historical figures, holidays, and patriotic symbols. Once again, the standards (SS 1.1.2) target citizenship skills, e.g., personal responsibility, obeying rules/laws. Building on a foundation (SS 1.1.2.b), 1st Graders analyze patriotic symbols, songs, celebrations, and holidays, like the Bald Eagle, and (SS 1.1.2.c) learn historical background and significance of national holidays like Constitution Day and Memorial Day. Historical analysis and interpretation also continued (SS 1.4.3), describing historical people, events, and symbols, such as Abraham Lincoln, Standing Bear, and Willa Cather. Continued identification of American symbols (SS 1.4.3.b) like our national anthem and patriotic songs.

2ND GRADE: Civic participation continues (SS 2.1.2) with decisions using democratic traditions based on established rules and (SS 2.1.2) applying civic responsibilities like voting and obeying laws. Also continuing (SS 2.1.2.b) is analysis of patriotic symbols, songs, and celebrations, e.g., Pledge of Allegiance, national holidays. Further continuing is the (SS 2.1.2.c) teaching of the historical background and significance of national holidays, e.g., Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, Veterans Day. Positive economic lessons included, such as (SS 2.2.2.b) how people earn income/wages through work and (SS 2.2.3.b) how local government pays for goods and services it provides, e.g., taxes.

3rd GRADE: Concentration on (SS 3.1.2.a) identifying rights and responsibilities of citizens at the community level, e.g., public service. Again, including (SS 3.1.2.b) instruction in the meaning of patriotic symbols, songs, and holidays, e.g., U.S. Flag, national holidays like George Washington’s Birthday and Veteran’s Day.

4th GRADE: An emphasis on civics forms and functions of government (SS 4.1.1), learning about the structure and function of Nebraska government, also (SS 4.1.1) investigating and summarizing the historical foundation and events that led to the formation and structure of our state government. Comparing it to our federal government and its 3 branches. We read cautiously (SS 4.1.1.b) analyzing the contributions of multiple ethnic groups to the structure and function of our state government, because some texts use a multicultural ploy to assign much blame to European settlers. An unarguable item (SS 4.1.1.c), teaching how a bill becomes a law in the Nebraska legislature. Positive too (SS 4.1.2.c) is the learning of the historical background and significance of state holidays like Arbor Day and George Norris Day. Positive notations (SS 4.1.2.d) on how to identify and engage in opportunities to serve the state and (SS 4.1.2.e) explanations of how individuals and groups influence the perspectives of a state issue and its resolution, e.g., lobbying, petitions, social media. Solid economic lessons included (SS 4.2.1.a), like how consumers would react, if the price of a good or service increased, e.g., price of gas or haircuts. Also, (SS 4.2.2.a) identifying types of financial institutions in the community and their purposes. e.g., credit unions, how they loan money to help businesses grow and help people buy houses. Again, we are leery about Multiple Perspectives (SS 4.4.2). The guidelines fail to identify historically marginalized and underrepresented groups or how their interpretations and perspectives might prejudice students against mainstream interpretations of NE historical events. An example is the guideline to (SS 4.4.2.a,b) compare and contrast primary and secondary sources to better understand multiple perspectives of the same event, e.g., the Homestead Act or military journal of Ponca Removal in texts and other documents.

5th GRADE: Positive civics lessons to (SS 5.1.1) synthesize and justify the structure and function of the federal government. However, guidelines appear to place too much emphasis on (SS 5.1.1.a) contributions of multiple ethnic groups that formed the U. S. constitutional government instead of focusing on the commonality of immigrants to North America who devised our early state constitutions, Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation. Students do learn to (SS 5.1.1.b) identify and explain the origins, structure, and functions of the 3 branches of the federal government and (SS 5.1.2) apply democratic principles that are the foundation of the federal government systems to daily life. Also commendable is the guideline to (SS 5.1.2.a) explore and communicate the constitutional rights and civic responsibilities of U.S. citizens, e.g., freedom of speech, voting, and respecting the rights, opinions, and beliefs of others. Again, (SS 5.1.2.b) analysis of the significance of patriotic symbols and activities, e.g., “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful.” Also continued (SS 5.1.2.c), learning historical background and significance of national and state holidays, e.g., Native American Heritage Day and Citizenship Day. Basic economics continued (SS 5.2.4), teaching characteristics of U.S. economic institutions and (SS 5.2.4.a) the importance of financial institutions to households and businesses, e.g., loans to agriculture, business, and individuals in order to provide capital, importance of rule of law to enforce contracts and provide for private property. Once again, we are wary about Multiple Perspectives (SS 5.4.2) of historical events in the early Americas, including marginalized and underrepresented groups. Too often, this discussion of multiple perspectives degenerates into harsh criticism of our European ancestors, e.g., U.S. Constitution, Indian Removal Act, Atlantic Slave Trade. Our caution also extends to (SS 5.4.3.a ) analyzing the impact of people, events, ideas, and symbols on various cultures and ethnic groups in early America through the Revolution, e.g. colonization. However, a rightful accent on the emergence of democratic institutions: the Revolution, Founders and Founding documents, the unique nature of the creation of the U.S. leading to a nation based upon personal freedom, inalienable rights, and democratic ideals.

6th GRADE: (SS 6.1.2) Investigating the roles, responsibilities, and rights as local, national, and international citizens brings up another concern, that students will become propagandized by one world government instruction. More positive is (SS 6.1.1.a) investigating different forms of government through the study of early civilizations, e.g., tribal, monarchy, democracy, republic, theocracy. Also commendable is (SS 6.1.2.b), to identify the contributions made by ancient civilizations to our patriotic symbols, e.g., Roman inscriptions on the Great Seal of the U.S. Positive economics in (SS 6.2.3.b), explaining how the relationship between supply and demand determines price, e.g., research the various resources utilized as mediums of exchange like animals, cowry shells, gold. Also, guidelines to learn about economic growth, investment, labor productivity, barter, markets, consumer goods and products, relative price, trade. However, again we see a dose of (SS 6.4.3) examining historical events from the perspectives of marginalized and underrepresented groups, which may unfairly categorize European settlers.

7TH GRADE: Positives include (SS 7.1.1.c) the ability to identify and report significant historic events and documents that have influenced government institutions and their functions, e.g., Magna Carta, social contract theory, Mayflower Compact. Also, (SS 7.1.1.d) learning how government decisions have impacted lives of individuals around the world and their communities, using multiple perspectives, e.g., French Revolution. Another positive, (SS 7.1.1.e) learning and analyzing important government principles, e.g., rule of law, separation of powers, natural rights, limited government.

8th GRADE: More positives about economics (SS 8.2.4), identifying how changes in competition affect price and production and (SS 8.2.6) understanding personal and business financial management, (SS 8.2.2.c) plus explanation of how tax revenues collected and distributed. ( SS 8.2.2.d) Students would research the origins and development of our free enterprise system, e.g., looking at the work of Thomas Paine and the influence of the Enlightenment and colonial rule on the U.S. economy. (SS 8.2.6.a) Learning to identify skills for future financial success, e.g., identify terms associated with budgeting, credit, investing, and risk management. Once again (SS 8.4.3), we grow suspicious about the continual examination of historical events from the perspectives of marginalized and underrepresented groups, concerned that social studies content will malign traditional outstanding figures in U.S. history. Additional positive points (SS 8.1.1.c) with examining the development of foundational laws and other documents in the U. S. government, e.g. Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights. Also (SS 8.1.1.d), evaluating how various government decisions impact people and history, e.g., taxation, distribution of resources, acquisition of territories. Further (SS 8.1.1.e), learning how important government principles appear in American government, e.g., freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, popular sovereignty. A positive repetition (SS 8.1.2.b) to analyze the significance of patriotic symbols and activities, e.g., Pledge of Allegiance, Constitution Day. Review of the Constitution to understand the roles of each branch in establishing a national budget and the separation of powers. Worrisome is (SS 8.4.3.a) analyzing how differing experiences can lead to the development of perspectives, e.g., comparing primary accounts by American Indian peoples and American settlers regarding the expansion of the U.S. and (SS 8.4.3.b) interpreting how and why marginalized groups and/or individuals might understand historical events similarly or differently, e.g., how different Native American groups responded to territorial incursions by the U.S. Such curriculum often used to trigger disparaging commentary regarding European settlers and their institutions.

HIGH SCHOOL: With a good start, (SS HS.1.1.b) would require students to analyze the structure of American constitutional government, e.g., federalism, democracy, representative government, branches of the government, separation of powers, checks and balances, amendment process, concurrent/enumerated/implied powers, electoral college. Proceeding well, (SS HS.1.1.c) would require analyzing the functions of the federal government, e.g., national security, legislative law-making, judicial interpretation, constitutionalism, taxation, naturalization of citizens. Good corollary (SS HS.1.1.d) guidelines require analyzing of the foundation, structures, and functions of local government, e.g., city council, school board, county government, followed by (SS HS.1.1.e) analyzing the foundation, structures, and functions of state government, e.g., bicameral/unicameral, reapportionment/redistricting, branches of government. We express caution regarding ( SS HS.1.1.f), which tell students to investigate and analyze the foundation, structures, and functions of supranational organizations. We object to curricula that advance world government or subject U.S. laws and customs to international rulings. On track (SS HS.1.2.) students will learn how individuals and groups can effectively use the structure and functions of various levels of government to shape policy, e.g., lobbying, voting, petitioning. Repetitious but necessary is (SS HS.1.2.b) to communicate the significance and impacts of patriotic symbols, holidays, and activities, e.g., Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, Presidents Day. Financial Literacy (SS HS.2.2) would require developing a plan to support short- and long-term financial goals. As a follow up, (SS HS.2.2.a) learning to make a budget using a computerized financial record- keeping tool, e.g. Quicken and (SS HS.2.2.b) to compare and contrast different types of bank accounts and tools, e.g., checking, savings, CDs. Also instructive is (SS HS.2.2.c), to assess the effects of taxes on personal income, e.g., FICA, SSI, property taxes. Followed by (SS HS.2.3.a), to compare and contrast the costs and benefits of different kinds and sources of credit and debt, e.g., credit card interest rates, personal loan rates, mortgage rates, student loan rates. Additionally instructive is (SS HS.2.3.b), investigating strategies to effectively manage debt and maintain a good credit rating, e.g., credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and (SS HS.2.4) evaluating savings, investment, and risk management strategies to achieve financial goals. Also, (SS HS.2.4.a), to explain the importance of saving and investing early to ensure financial security, e.g., compound interest. Additionally, (SS HS.2.4.b), to develop an investment strategy to achieve short- and long-term goals utilizing several investment strategies, e.g., stocks, bonds, mutual funds. More free market economics, (SS HS.2.5.c) to hypothesize how competition between sellers could result in lower prices, higher quality products, and better customer service. Also (SS HS.2.6.b), to calculate and describe the impact of economic indicators, e.g., trends and business cycles using GDP, unemployment rates, and cyclical inflation/deflation rates. Also useful, (SS HS.2.7.a), assessing how property rights defined, enforced, and limited by government, e.g., contracts and the rule of law; zoning laws, eminent domain, copyright laws, patents. Followed by (SS HS.2.9.a), useful exploration of various forms of taxation including income, sales, and capital gains and how governments can use taxing and spending policies to influence behavior, e.g., alcohol tax, home mortgage interest deduction, sales tax, etc. Also useful in economics (SS HS.2.10.b), analyzing impacts on prices and various trade policies, both domestically and internationally, e.g., tariffs, quotas, protectionist policies. (SS HS.3.2.a) causes concern. Analysis of physical and human processes that shape climate change should not declare that global warming is fact but only a theory. ( SS HS.3.2.c), evaluating the interdependence of places and regions includes materials on supranational organizations like the UN, globalization, Paris Climate Agreement. We should not acquiesce in propagandizing or teaching our kids that Americans must abide by organizations that supersede our sovereignty and abide by laws or regulations pertaining to internationalism or phony climate agreements. (SS HS.4.3.b) brings up again the specter that historical events in proposed multiculturalism may paint white Europeans in negative terms, e.g., commentary from LGBTQ persons and Native American nations. A positive in social studies instruction (SS HS.4.5) is teaching to apply the inquiry process to develop and research historical questions.

CONCLUSION. Understand that the State Board of Education promulgates these social studies guidelines as only guidelines, but they are mandatory guidelines and can lead to installation of textbooks and other learning materials that skew content politically. Therefore, taxpayers must guard against state guidelines that on the surface appear innocuous but actually lock in very liberal content prescriptions that become exacerbated by the purchase and use of curriculum materials that lean heavily towards political correctness and other noxious political content.

NTF ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS. Only 210 Nebraska school districts offer a personal finance class at high school level. 95 districts, with about 60% of the high school population, require completion of such class to graduate. NTF believes that all NE high school students should have at least 1 semester in personal finance training to prepare for adult living. Examining the present student loan crisis shows how the lack of true personal financial decision-making foils future economic independence. High schoolers also should know different kinds of business models used in our communities. They should learn how to analyze a paycheck to understand the deductions and how they impact total take home pay. They must understand how to select strategies for retirement planning. These students should know how to analyze a simple government budget. They must understand the many financial security, ID, and fraud risks and ways to avoid them as they approach adulthood.

TAKE ACTION NOW. Do not delay. Contact your State Board of Education member today to vote only for revised social studies guidelines that do not detract from our traditional historical heritage. Send email, mail a letter, or car pool to the State Board fall meeting to testify in person on these revisions, using information from our issue paper above. To read the entire new social studies standards proposals and to offer your input, access https://www.education.ne.gov/socialstudies/social-studies-standards-revision/. Email netaxpayers@gmail.com for state board member contact information and join the NTF Education Watch Project.
Research, documentation, and analysis for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the NE Conservative Coalition Network. 5-19. C

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