The year may be ending soon, but the opportunities for Civics Alliance members to push for reform within their states are only growing. The next several months will be especially crucial in the battle for civics education reform in Virginia, South Dakota, Texas, Florida, and Minnesota.
Virginia Social Studies Standards Reform in Danger
Virginia’s Board of Education (VBOE) released a much improved draft social studies standard. Unfortunately, it is now in danger.
In September, the Civics Alliance recommended substantial revisions to the VBOE’s previous draft. VBOE then released a far better version—although we provided a comment that listed our suggestions for further improvement in detail. VBOE received immediate and ferocious criticism at their first public comment session; in response, they promised to make further revisions that would incorporate material from the (terrible) earlier draft.
VBOE needs immediate public support to sustain it as it works to reform social studies standards. We urge Virginians to get in touch with the Virginia Department of Education to express their support for the new draft social studies standards—and also in support of the Civic Alliance’s suggested revisions to these standards. The VBOE needs to hear your voice!
Virginians also should learn precisely when and where the public engagement sessions and public hearings will be so that they may testify in person in favor of the new draft social studies standards. The announced schedule for the adoption of the draft Virginia social studies standards is as follows:
- November 28 – December 16, 2022 — Public engagement sessions
- January 9–13, 2023 — Public hearings
- January 2023 — Review of public comments and suggested edits
- February 2023 — Final review and adoption of the 2023 History & Social Science SOL
This schedule probably has been altered; we will inform you when the new schedule is posted.
South Dakota Social Studies Standards: Public Testimony
South Dakota’s Board of Education Standards will hold two further public meetings, on Saturday, February 11, 2023, in Pierre and on Monday, April 17, 2023, in Rapid City. We urge South Dakotans to testify in favor of the draft social studies standards, in writing and in person.
Texas Board of Education Votes to Implement Critical Race Theory Ban
Texas’ State Board of Education (SBOE) has voted to implement the legislature’s ban on inculcating Critical Race Theory in social studies classes. This is good news—and not trivial. Every law passed by a state legislature needs to be translated into administrative code; Texas’ battle to reform social studies education didn’t end when the legislature passed a law. Indeed, it isn’t over yet—the law and the code still need to be enforced in the classroom. We highlight the SBOE’s vote because reformers in every state will need to make sure that state administrative bodies follow through with legislative reforms.
Florida Calls for New Social Studies Textbooks
Florida now is issuing a call for new social studies textbooks to meet its new, reformed standards. We mention this partly to encourage reformers to submit their own textbooks to the state of Florida (Amber Baumbach) and partly to inform reformers that the process of social studies reform is long and complex. The process often includes revising calls for social studies textbooks—as well as crafting appropriate textbooks that will meet revised state standards.
Minnesota’s Politicization of Teacher Licensure Advances
A Minnesota administrative law judge unfortunately has approved most of the state’s proposed politicization of teacher licensure. We write partly to inform Minnesotans, so they can resist these changes—in particular, by consulting with Minnesota’s Center of the American Experiment about the most effective means to delay, minimize, and overturn these licensure rules. We also write to remind all Civics Alliance members of the danger posed by politicizing teacher licensure rules—and to remind them of the necessity of reform efforts such as the National Association of Scholars’ Model Education Licensure Code.
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 eight affiliates, in Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Monthly American Birthright Zoom Meeting
The Civics Alliance will have its fourth monthly Zoom session devoted to social studies standards reform on Wednesday, December 14, at 12:30 pm Eastern Time. Please email email@example.com if you would like to join these monthly Zoom meetings.
Social Studies Standards Revision Schedule
2022/Current: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky (partial), Minnesota, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia.
2023: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Wyoming
2024: Alabama, Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin
2025: Kentucky, 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: District of Columbia (current process), North Carolina (2021)
Please email David Randall (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.