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We call on the states and school districts to adopt new social studies standards, based upon American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards. American Birthright is rigorous, clearly written, and appeals to a broad majority of Americans, because it does not pursue a narrow, partisan agenda. American Birthright will provide our children social studies instruction centered on freedom, so as to educate them to secure the blessings of liberty.
American Birthright teaches students to identify the ideals, institutions, and individual examples of human liberty, individualism, religious freedom, and republican self-government; assess the extent to which civilizations have fulfilled these ideals; and describe how the evolution of these ideals in different times and places has contributed to the formation of modern American ideals.
American Birthright provides comprehensive content knowledge in History, Geography, Civics, and Economics, as well as sustained coverage of Western Civilization, World History, United States History, and Civics. Within those four main areas, students learn throughout about the role in history of Liberty; Faith and Nations; Science and Technology; Economics; State and Society; and Culture. All these lessons teach them to understand the exceptional but fragile achievement embodied in the creation and preservation of the American republic.
American Birthright provides a basic sequence of courses from Kindergarten through Grade 7 that introduces students to the geography, history, and government of their towns, states, country, and world, as well as an introduction to economics. This sequence centers its instruction on America’s symbols, geography, history, and government.
American Birthright then provides an advanced sequence of courses in Grades 8 through 12 on Ancient and Classical Mediterranean Civilizations, the Development of Western Civilization, World History, United States History, and Civics. This coherent sequence culminates in United States History and Civics, to emphasize the point that social studies instruction should sustain American liberty.
American Birthright integrates the upper-level learning standards with an extensive series of primary source documents. Students should learn the actual materials of history and not just textbook interpretations, which often distort the past. American Birthright provides these documents for the upper grades and encourages teachers to integrate them into instruction for the lower grades.
American Birthright’s learning standards are facts to learn. American Birthright sketches methodologies for History, Geography, Civics, and Economics, as well as pedagogical rules of thumb, but American Birthright doesn’t require skills instruction. Our teachers should choose freely how their students learn.
American Birthright has been written so that every teacher and parent can understand it easily. Each grade’s standards are written in bullet points and it contains only four social studies disciplines. American Birthright’s straightforward structure makes it easy for teachers to use and easy for parents to hold teachers accountable for how well they teach social studies. American Birthright’s focus on factual content also encourages accountability. We can’t tell how well our teachers instruct an individual student when they’re assessing group projects, protests, “skills,” or ideological commitments—or when all students pass, no matter how little they’ve learned.
American Birthright’s intensive content standards also facilitate reliable assessment, whether by national companies such as the Educational Testing Service (ETS), state-level testing, or tests by school districts and individual teachers. Its content standards provide enough material to make it easy both for teachers and for large organizations such as ETS to create tests that accurately assess student knowledge.
American Birthright will prepare our children for college and career. Good colleges and good jobs require what American Birthright will produce—competitive and ambitious students and workers with broad background knowledge; the talent to absorb, synthesize and make use of large numbers of facts; the capacity to listen sympathetically to multiple points of view and to engage in free debate; the readiness to be judged for their ability to produce timely and competent work; and independence of conscience and mind.
American Birthright will especially benefit the most disadvantaged students. Disadvantaged students benefit from intensive content instruction even more than better-off students, who receive large amounts of content knowledge from their families and peers. Content standards that focus on skills and abbreviate content foster an unequal society because they especially harm the education of disadvantaged children. American Birthright’s intensive content standards fulfill America’s promise of equal educational opportunities for everyone.
The states and school districts should work immediately to adopt new social studies standards, based on American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards.
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