We’ve submitted a public comment on Maine’s wretched proposed social studies standards. The Center of the American Experiment has submitted a legal challenge to Minnesota’s even worse new social studies standards. There are jobs advertised at the Goldwater Institute and successful reform at the Martin Center. All this and more in the latest Resolute 

Maine’s Wretched Proposed Social Studies Standards

Maine’s Education Department has proposed a truly wretched social studies standard and the Civics Alliance and the National Association of Scholars have sent in a public comment:

We conclude that the Draft Standards does a great disservice to the citizens, students, and teachers of Maine. The Draft Standards possesses virtually no content knowledge. It consists largely of education school jargon, heavily inflected by radical polemic. State statutes that require mention of African American and American Indian history have been distorted to include rote mention of African Americans and American Indians throughout the standards. Worse, the state requirement to include genocide education focused upon the Holocaust has been turned into a blood libel of American and Mainers, by applying “genocide” to their history. The Maine Education Department should rescind the Draft Standards and replace it with a content-rich, unpoliticized social studies standard that replaces inculcation of radical polemic with teaching the history of America and Maine.

Maine already had virtually no content in their previous social studies standards; the standards therefore consist almost entirely of “skills” pablum and radical polemic. Most importantly, this boilerplate now includes the perversion of “genocide” education to teach about America’s history as genocidal. The Oregon Association of Scholars wrote cogently about how genocide education could and would be perverted in this fashion; Maine’s Education Department has substantiated their fears.

Maine’s public comment session lasts until November 14, we encourage Civics Alliance supporters—and everyone concerned about Maine Social Studies—to comment.

Minnesota Legal Challenge

The Center of the American Experiment (CAE) has submitted a legal challenge to Minnesota’s terrible new social studies standards:

The anchor standards serve as the vector for the politicized ideology that undergirds the 2021 Social Studies standards. They are saturated with terms and concepts such as “power structures,” race-based “identity,” “oppression,” “equity” and “resistance.” These and similar notions—including “decolonization” and “settler colonialism,” which appear in the benchmarks—are the core tenets, buzzwords, concepts, and assumptions of what’s known as Critical Social Justice ideology.

Minnesota allows challenges based on ground such as objectivity, measurability, and reasonableness. State law varies, but the important point is that it is possible to keep fighting bd standards, even after terrible legislation has passed. Legal recourses exist—and the material prepared for a legal challenge can be used to inform the public and policymakers and prepare the ground for a political counter-attack. Civics Alliance supporters should model their own work in each state on the invaluable work being done by CAE.

Goldwater Institute Civics Jobs

We mentioned in our last Resolute that the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy has just announced a new collaboration with AAT Education to develop a new high school American history curriculum, based on Wilfred McClay’s excellent textbook, Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story. We now pass along news of two openings for positions at the Van Sittert Center: a Senior Constitutionalism Fellow and a Civics Education Specialist. If you are interested and qualified, please apply!

We mention this not only because we are delighted to serve as a jobs bank for all positions of this sort. Civics Alliance supporters should know that policy institutes are beginning to staff positions of this sort—and it is crucial that education reformers develop a network of such positions, dedicated to restoring tradition civics education. We urge Civics Alliance supporters to recommend such positions to qualified acquaintance—and we urge deep-pocketed Civics Alliance supporters to fund such positions at other state policy institutes around the country!

North Carolina’s Martin Center Making Things Happen

The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal has been pushing for accreditation reform, and North Carolina’s accreditation reform bill has become law! North Carolina’s public universities will now be required by law to switch accreditors each accreditation cycle. This still leaves the question of how to make sure that the accreditors don’t resist reform en masse. One suggestion: have the Board of Trustees write a letter to each accreditor, asking if they will commit to specified reforms. But the important point is that the bill has passed, and we can assume the Martin Center should take a bow.

The Martin Center has a long history of constructive reform suggestions in education policy—now conveniently collated in its Blueprints for Reform webpage. (Including a Blueprint for Civics Education.) The Martin Center has been supercharging higher education reform in North Carolina for a long time now, and deserves praise.

And, imitation. Civics Alliance supporters should note how effective a dedicated policy institute at the state level can be, to make a particular issue a priority for the public and for policymakers. The Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy should soon be performing that role for civics education in Arizona. We need 50 Martin Centers, 50 Van Sittert Centers.

Classical Education, Licensure Track?

Can one have an alternative certification pathway for classical education? For religious schools, secular private schools, public schools? (Three separate queries.) There are a variety of important individual institutions in the classical education world—Thales CollegeUniversity of DallasHillsdale College. But is there or should there be statewide or nationwide means of coordinating/licensing them? Noting that if you build an organization, it can be captured by the radical education establishment.

This is not a news item as such—but we hope Civics Alliance supporters will find ruminating on this question productive!

The World of Self Promotion

The National Association of Scholars recently hosted a webinar on Teaching African American History, moderated by yours truly, and featuring as panelists William Allen, Emeritus Dean and Professor at Michigan State University; Benjamin Jones, former Secretary of Education for South Dakota and Director of South Dakota State Historical Society; and Ian Rowe, a Senior Fellow at American Enterprise Institute and writer for the 1776 Unites Campaign. It was a good webinar! And we hope Civics Alliance supporters will take a look and pass the link on to friends.

The Pioneer Institute, meanwhile, has just published Restoring the City on a Hill: U.S. History & Civics in America’s Schools, a collection of their reports—including a few by yours truly. The Pioneer Institute has done good work for years on civics education reform; this book is a good way to learn what they’ve been doing.

State Social Studies Standards: What’s Coming Up

  • Alaska: Alaska’s Department of Education contracted with the American Institutes for Research to provide draft social studies standards. These draft standards are scheduled to be submitted to the State Board of Education and posted for public comment in March of 2024.
  • West Virginia. Social studies standards will be reviewed through January 2024, and presented to the State Board of Education in April 2024.

If you have news we don’t please write in and say! But as far as we can tell, that is the state of play for the present moment.

Civics Alliance Now Has Ten State Affiliates 

The Civics Alliance is building a network of state affiliates—groups dedicated to removing action civics in their states, whom we will list on our website. Our newest state affiliate is Nebraska, run by Dennis Applegarth. Welcome, Dennis and Nebraska! We now have ten affiliates, in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, 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 (randall@nas.org).

Monthly American Birthright Zoom Meeting

The Civics Alliance will have its monthly Zoom session devoted to social studies standards reform on Monday, November 27, at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. Please email randall@nas.org if you would like to join these monthly Zoom meetings.

Social Studies Standards Revision Schedule

2024/Current: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky (partial), Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

2025: Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas

2026: Colorado, Maryland, North Dakota, South Carolina

2027: Hawaii, Kansas

2029: Louisiana

2030: Minnesota

2031: Illinois

No Revision Currently Scheduled: California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington

Please email David Randall (randall@nas.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 supporters may now use the Civics Bill Tracker to track all proposed federal and state legislation related to civics.

Public Action 

We encourage Civics Alliance supporters 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.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash