The Louisiana Department of Education is working to reform its social studies curriculum. The Goldwater Institute has published a model Freedom From Indoctrination Act. Good work is happening around the nation! Read on for more …
Louisiana: Department of Education and Core Knowledge Foundation Creating Curriculum Together
The Louisiana Department of Education and the Core Knowledge Foundation have joined together to create Bayou Bridges: A K-8 Louisiana Social Studies Curriculum, to be completed and available by June 2024. The new curriculum will align with the 2022 K-8 Louisiana Student Standards for Social Studies. Bayou Bridges will be an Open Educational Resource available for free download and free non-commercial use. Low-cost print copies of these materials will also be available for purchase.
This matters because reformed social studies standards must be accompanied by reformed teacher training, professional development, textbooks—and curriculum. School districts and teachers need curriculum to flesh out their standards. States that reform their standards may not get good results if they rely on private vendors to provide curriculum, who could make cosmetic changes to their existing, inferior material. Louisiana’s initiative provides an excellent model for how reform-minded state education departments can follow through to create social studies curriculum that match their reformed standards, which school districts will be able to adopt easily.
The Core Knowledge Foundation is a reasonable choice for such a vendor, if not a perfect one. A Hillsdale or a Great Hearts might provide even better curriculum—but it might also be a more difficult political task to get such a curriculum through a state education department and adopted by school districts. The Core Knowledge Foundation wonderfully focuses on content rather than hollow “skills,” it should be able to integrate any reformed standard with its own curricular model, and its justifiably bipartisan reputation may make it easier to persuade school districts throughout a state to adopt its curriculum.
Education reformers throughout the nation should pay attention to Louisiana. Reformed standards aren’t enough—Louisiana is creating a practical model for translating reformed standards into reformed curriculum.
Ohio: Bills Introduced for K–12 Social Studies Reform and Higher Education Reform
The Civics Alliance is delighted about Ohio HB 103, a bill which would set up a commission to draft new Ohio Social Studies Standards modeled on American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards; and about Ohio SB 83, which would provide a broad range of higher education reforms—many of them inspired by the Civic Alliance’s Model Higher Education Code. We encourage Ohio citizens to provide testimony (testimony times are not yet scheduled) and support for these bills; please get in touch with David Randall (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in these roles.
Arizona: Model Freedom From Indoctrination Act
The Goldwater Institute and Speech First have just published a new model Freedom From Indoctrination Act. The model act provides comprehensive reform for higher education, including a new general education requirement in American history and government at public colleges and universities. The Goldwater Institute also mentions that this model act can be paired with any of the following related model legislation:
- Campus Free Speech Act (Goldwater Institute)
- Protecting Students from Bias Reporting Systems (Speech First-Goldwater)
- Abolish DEI Bureaucracies (Manhattan Institute-Goldwater)
The Civics Alliance has its own range of model legislation for K–12 schools and higher education—but we want to emphasize that we’re not the only people offering model legislation. The Goldwater Institute, the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council—all of these organizations, and more, have come forward with model legislation to reform our education system. The Civics Alliance is a friendly rival to these other organizations in the model legislation we offer—and we would be delighted if model bills by Goldwater or the Martin Center or any of our other colleagues became law. Education reformers, particularly policymakers, should look at all of the solutions on offer and choose what seems best to them.
Colorado: School Board Resources
The Independence Institute now has a webpage of School Board Resources. They are particularly intended for Coloradans, but the webpage can be useful for education reformers around the nation. Education reformers should remember that school board reform is an essential component of education reform—reform has to take place on the school-district level to be effective. The Independence Institute is providing a vital service—and we encourage policy institutes in other states to follow its model.
Thank You: Mark Gilson
In the previous Resolute, I asked for volunteers to help collect the names and addresses of school board members. Mark Gilson figured out how to automate the process—and it is done! A very grateful thank you! to Mark Gilson. And if we focus on civics reform here at the Civics Alliance, this is a timely reminder that we need computer science knowledge too!
American Birthright Taskforce Act
The Civics Alliance has just published the American Birthright Taskforce Act, drafted by the National Association of Scholars. The Act provides model language so that state policymakers can create a social studies task force, appointed by the governor and the state legislature, to draft social studies standards based on American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards. State policymakers may use this Act to establish American Birthright directly, rather than work through (too-often heel-dragging) state education departments.
The Act creates a social studies task force to draft social studies standards based on American Birthright—and which therefore can be tailored to suit the state’s own needs. The task force provides an opportunity for public input, its work product has to be approved by the education committees of both legislative houses, and every member of both legislative houses will have a chance to move amendments of the standard in detail. If the standards pass by concurrent resolution in both legislative chambers, then they are in effect for five years—at which point, they will be subject to review by a new task force.
Civics Alliance State Affiliates
The Civics Alliance is building a network of state affiliates—groups dedicated to removing action civics in their state, whom we will list on our website. We now have nine affiliates, in Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas. If you would like to form such an organization, or suggest an existing organization, please get in touch with David Randall (email@example.com).
Monthly American Birthright Zoom Meeting
The Civics Alliance will have its monthly Zoom session devoted to social studies standards reform on Monday, May 1, at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join these monthly Zoom meetings.
Social Studies Standards Revision Schedule
2023/Current: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky (partial), Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming
2024: Alabama, Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin
2025: Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas
2026: Colorado, Maryland, North Dakota, South Carolina
2027: Hawaii, Kansas
No Revision Currently Scheduled: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri (but could change), New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington
Waiting Confirmation: North Carolina (2021)
Please email David Randall (email@example.com) if you are interested in further information about your state’s social studies revision process, and what you can do to participate.
Continuing Priorities: Federal Legislation
At the federal level, the Civics Secures Democracy Act threatens to impose action civics nationwide.
The Civics Bill Tracker
Civics Alliance members may now use the Civics Bill Tracker to track all proposed federal and state legislation related to civics.
We encourage Civics Alliance members to inform the public and policymakers about the stakes and consequences of action civics bills.
David Randall is Executive Director of the Civics Alliance and Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars.