Like most of you, I have been reading about the recent discussions, criticisms and school board squabbles (see Cobb County) about “Common Core”. This is not a blog about Common Core. I’ve got many a bone to pick with it, as I often do with most of the ideas-du-jour of the educational industrial complex. The usual outcome from their ideas, no matter how noble or misguided the intention, usually end with money being stuffed into the pockets of the textbook publishers, testing companies and the various parasitic classes. So, let’s set that aside as a topic for another day. This blog is about the Bill of Rights.
I want to draw your attention to what happened many years ago when our state’s educational apparatchiks developed the “Georgia Performance Standards” (GPS). Within our own state, the educrats decided on a terribly flawed roadmap to guide the teaching of social studies (why can’t we call it history and embrace that term?) to our elementary school children. As the Mom of three children in elementary school I experience the flaws of the “social studies” GPS first hand. What are my biggest beefs? The Bill of Rights and biographies.
I invite you to review the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) for social studies in elementary school. Look for the references to The Bill of Rights. You will find that The Bill of Rights is first mentioned in 4th grade and then again in 5th grade. Yet, in second grade the educational establishment in Georgia believes we should first use the term “rights” in the discussion of “civil rights” under the unit labeled “SS2H1” and in reference to Jackie Robinson and MLK. These two gentlemen are important to the discussion of The Bill of Rights and how our rights should be applied. But, should not we first set the stage and put forth The Bill of Rights and define what these rights are before we discuss to whom they should apply? As a woman and mother of a daughter, it is interesting that the very first discussion of “rights” (in 2nd grade) has no connection made with rights for women? Again, I think that could be avoided if we simply explained the rights as defined by our wise Founding Fathers, without making it a polarizing issue.
Georgians should closely examine what “social studies” teaches in third grade. This is a year before our children are exposed to “The Bill of Rights”. In 3rd grade our 7 and 8 year olds are taught about “rights” via the “9 important people”. These 9 are: Paul Revere (independence), Frederick Douglass (civil rights), Susan B. Anthony (women’s rights), Mary McLeod Bethune (education), Franklin D. Roosevelt (New Deal and World War II), Eleanor Roosevelt (United Nations and human rights), Thurgood Marshall (civil rights), Lyndon B. Johnson (Great Society and voting rights), and César Chávez (workers’ rights). Let me give you clarity – before The Bill of Rights is taught to your children, our public schools first teach “rights” through the biographies of these “9 important people”. In 4th grade our children will examine The Bill of Rights after they examine the “cooperation and conflict” of European settlers and Native Americans. Then they learn about King George III, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Benedict Arnold, Patrick Henry, and John Adams. Fifth graders examine the Civil War and then study “modern history”.
Why are our children not taught of the signers of the Declaration of Independence? Why are they not taught about the signers of the Constitution? Should there not be a mention of The Federalist Papers? The role of economic freedom is not fully expanded in the curriculum while icons of liberal social philosophy are given special attention. The K-5 curriculum of Georgia certainly does not instill the values of liberty and self-reliance. It perpetuates a social agenda of guilt, judgment and entitlement based on an ambiguous and incorrect assessment of history.
The birth of our nation, the brave and wise men who breathed life into it with their words, our founding documents – these topics should be taught and refined throughout our children’s elementary school years. We should be passing along the wisdom of our civilization to the children who are to inherit it. It is a travesty that we are wasting these precious years to advance political agendas and cultural sensitivities. As a woman I have no need to inject more female perspectives and biographies into the study of history from the 1700s forward. My daughter’s self-esteem and growth potential is not predicated on being provided 18th century female role models. My daughter and my sons deserve a full and rich understanding of the greatness of the Founding Fathers. Their wisdom is a gift to all no matter one’s color, ethnicity, gender or religious preference. In fact their gift was and remains the basis upon which all have attained freedom and dignity. Their wisdom, as codified in our founding documents, is more profoundly relevant to those who have struggled to obtain their freedom through the use of their noble design than to the men who created and lived under their protection in our nations earliest days. It is deeply disturbing that we are disenfranchising our citizens from understanding the power of their birthright.
Regarding Common Core, it is hard to believe that the Cobb County tea party members (they all looked like they were in their 60s and 70s which meant they are not even paying school taxes in that county) actually booed the math teachers who asked for textbooks to support the Common Core math skills (is math political). It is a sorry day in Georgia when math teachers are booed. Not listening to teachers is the major problem DeKalb has, and apparently Coob has that as well. IMHO – we need to ask the teachers who teach our children what they need as instructional materials – not treat them with the utmost disrespect. Who are these tea party people who would boo math teachers?
There are many, many problems with “social studies” in DeKalb schools and I agree with Nancy that it should be called history rather than social studies. Here are just a couple of examples at PCMS.
First, Georgia teaches that Jesus founded Christianity which is incorrect. There is no historical evidence for a teacher/prophet named Jesus and it was most likely that Christianity evolved from other religions in the region. Just ask a Georgia teacher to cite a period document that mentions Jesus and he or she will be unable to do so because none exist.
Georgia also conflates democracy with capitalism which is incorrect. Capitalism is an economic system that can exist within the context of democracy but which often exists under authoritarian governments. For example, in 1933 a group of Wall Street financiers approached US Marine General Smedley Butler to stage a coup against F.D.R., a significant event not covered in Georgia history classes. The result would have been a politcal and economic system similar to that of fascist Italy.