New York, NY; June 27, 2022 – The Civics Alliance, a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to improving America’s civics education, has created American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards. American Birthright has been released the week before July 4, to honor Independence Day.
State standards are the single most influential documents in America’s education system. State education departments use them to provide guidance to each public K-12 school district and charter school as they create their own courses. State standards also influence what textbook authors write and what assessment companies such as the College Board test for in their advanced placement examinations. They affect teacher training and they provide the framework for teachers’ individual lesson plans. Private schools and homeschool parents also keep an eye on state standards.
The Civics Alliance wants to improve every aspect of American social studies instruction by inspiring America’s state education departments to provide social studies standards that teach American students their birthright of liberty.
Civics Alliance Executive Director David Randall stated that, “Every American student should be educated to be another Harry Truman—a high-school graduate who, without ever graduating from college, has a solid grasp of history and is capable of serving as an officer, a judge, a senator, and president.”
Yet some state education departments are set on imposing state social studies standards that combine misguided pedagogical theory, low academic standards, and anti-American animus. America at large has suffered from their success. Too many Americans have emerged from our schools ignorant of America’s history, indifferent to liberty, and estranged from their country. We must restore American social studies instruction centered on liberty if we are to restore the American republic to good health.
“Americans of all parties want to take back their schools,” Randall explained. “The Civics Alliance wrote American Birthright to equip governors, state legislators, school boards, and grassroots activists for that fight. Every American needs to know what a proper social studies instruction should be.”
The Civics Alliance crafted American Birthright to teach America’s foundational history of liberty. American Birthright is written so that every American can understand it easily. It organizes each grade’s standards in bullet points and reduces the number of social studies disciplines to four. American Birthright provides the comprehensive content knowledge in history, geography, civics, and economics that schools should teach in each grade from pre-kindergarten through high school.
Each course’s learning standards describe what students should be expected to learn in each grade—knowledge such as the location of the Battle of Yorktown, the concept of separation of powers, and the causes and effects of World War II. American Birthright frames instruction and assessment to ensure that students learn content knowledge rather than hollow mastery of abstract skills. American Birthright integrates the upper-level learning standards with an extensive series of primary source documents, which students should read in whole or in part.
American Birthright provides a sequence of courses 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 a more advanced sequence of courses in Grades 8 through 12 on Ancient and Classical Mediterranean Civilizations, Western Civilization, World History, United States History, and Civics.
American Birthright includes a two-year Western Civilization sequence in Grades 8 and 9, because American students need to know the origins of our ideals and institutions of freedom. It offers a rigorous Grade 10 World History course so that students will learn core knowledge about the different civilizations of humanity. American Birthright culminates in United States History and Civics to underscore that social studies should be taught to sustain American 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.
Above all, American Birthright teaches about the expansion of American liberty to include all Americans, the contributions that Americans from every walk of life have made to our shared history of liberty, and America’s championship of liberty throughout the world. Students will learn of heroes of liberty such as Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ronald Reagan.
American Birthright provides intensive content standards, which ask students to learn a comprehensive array of facts, including dates, places, and concepts. Better-off students receive large amounts of content knowledge from their families and peers, but disadvantaged students must receive this content in school if they are to receive it at all. Content standards that focus on “skills” and abbreviate content foster an unequal society because they especially harm the education of disadvantaged children. American Birthright offers intensive content standards because to make sure that America’s schools fulfill the promise of a truly democratic education.
American Birthright adapts material from several sources that did a particularly good job of providing structure and content for social studies instruction. The largest source of American Birthright is the 2003 Massachusetts History and Social Sciences Curriculum Framework. We also have drawn on the Florida Civics Standards and on the National Association of Scholars’ report Disfigured History: How the College Board Demolishes the Past.
A distinguished panel of Expert Consultants worked on American Birthright; and the American Birthright coalition includes a large number of organizations and individuals, including many state policymakers. (See Who We Are.) The policymakers who have joined the American Birthright coalition include Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson of North Carolina, Senator Rob Sampson of Connecticut (Assistant Minority Leader), Representative Don Jones of Ohio (Majority Whip), and Representative Garry R. Smith of South Carolina (Chairman, House Operations and Management Committee). Among the organizations who have joined the coalition are the Claremont Institute and the Eagle Forum; individuals include Victor Davis Hanson and Christopher Rufo.
“American Birthright should not just be imposed on states and school districts,” Randall added. “The Civics Alliance crafted rigorous standards to make it straightforward for policymakers to create equally rigorous equivalents with different priorities, whether by abbreviating some topics and primary source readings, expanding others, or adjusting the course sequences. States and school districts should and will modify American Birthright in detail.”
State policymakers should accompany K-12 social studies standards modeled on American Birthright with legislation to ensure that public K-12 schools provide proper social studies instruction, such as the bills in the Civic Alliance’s Model K-12 Civics Code. We strongly suggest they consider bills to reform state-mandated social studies instruction, require legislative approval of K-12 content standards (unless an elected state board of education already has the authority to revise and approve academic standards), and institute academic transparency in public K-12 schools. Americans need such laws to make sure the content in reformed social studies standards reaches students in the classroom.
Federal bureaucracies and non-governmental organizations work together to impose homogenous, inferior, and politicized education on America. We do not wish to use them. America’s schools and curricula should be democratically accountable to our citizens and their elected representatives in state governments and school districts. We submit American Birthright directly to them.
States and school districts should create social studies standards modeled on American Birthright because it teaches American students their birthright of liberty. The Civics Alliance has sent letters to every governor and every state superintendent of education, informing them about American Birthright. We encourage all citizens to get in touch with these officials, to call for adopting some or all of American Birthright as a state social studies standard.
Proper social studies standards are a linchpin in the work to educate a new generation of Americans who understand and appreciate their nation’s past and who respect and are prepared to sacrifice for their country. American children should be equipped to continue the work bequeathed to them by the Founders—to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. The Civics Alliance offers American Birthright to help its fellow Americans to craft the standards, the curricula, the textbooks, and the lessons that will sustain our republic and our nation.
Contact: David Randall, Executive Director, Civics Alliance, firstname.lastname@example.org.