(The Center Square) – The National Association of Scholars’ Civics Alliance has launched a new model for curriculum that all state education departments can follow to improve K-12 education, the alliance says.
The “American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards” was created to better educate students about their heritage and to inspire “America’s state education departments to provide social studies standards that teach American students their birthright of liberty.”
The curriculum “teaches students to identify the ideals, institutions, and individual examples of human liberty, individualism, religious freedom, and republican self-government,” among other things.
“State standards are the single most influential documents in America’s education system,” the alliance said. They provide the guidance for all public K-12 school districts and charter schools when creating curriculum and courses. State standards also influence what kind of textbooks authors write, the alliance notes, and how tests are created to assess students. They also affect teacher training and influence how teachers devise their individual lesson plans.
The American Birthright standards provide a comprehensive approach to teaching History, Geography, Civics, and Economics with an emphasis on Western Civilization, World History, and U.S. History. Within these subjects, students learn about how history was influenced by liberty; faith and nations; science and technology; economics; state and society; and culture. The lessons are designed to teach students “to understand the exceptional but fragile achievement embodied in the creation and preservation of the American republic,” the alliance says.
American Birthright draws upon several sources, the alliance notes, but the two most important are the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework (2003) and the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for Social Studies, 2021 Revised Civics and Government Strand (2021).
It also credits Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the bipartisan Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for advancing social studies standards reforms in their states.
Earlier this year, Florida adopted new education standards that require public school instruction to adhere to principles of individual freedom and to ensure “freedom from indoctrination.”
Principles include the concept that no person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive solely by virtue of his or her race or sex and that a hard work ethic is fundamental to the right to pursue success. It also expands instruction of African American history, calling for a new “Stories of Inspiration” curriculum to be taught about influential African Americans who made invaluable contributions to society.
“No one should be instructed to feel as if they are not equal or shamed because of their race,” DeSantis said when he signed the bill. “In Florida, we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces. There is no place for indoctrination or discrimination in Florida.”
Florida’s “excellent 2021 Revised Civics and Government Strand used a proper pedagogy to teach K-6 students about America, and we have incorporated Florida’s patriotic emphasis into American Birthright,” the alliance says.
It also notes that in 2021-2022, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education accepted public comments throughout the social studies standard revision process. Concerned citizens’ comments and support for improving the standards resulted in Louisiana developing its historic “Freedom Framework” Content Standards.
Expert consultants who contributed to creating the alliance’s new standards come from a variety of backgrounds, including from the Florida Department of Education and the Louisiana Department of Education.
Members of the executive committee spearheading the initiative are from the Pioneer Institute, the Claremont Institute, Center of the American Experiment, Cardinal Institute, Idaho Freedom Foundation, National Association of Scholars, John Locke Foundation, and Californians for Equal Rights Foundation.
The alliance has reached out to all 50 governors and school districts in all 50 states encouraging them to adopt the standards.
Allen M. Stern, past president of the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies, lauds the standards, saying, “American students need solid groundings in all the social sciences.” Stern is also an economics curriculum expert for the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Department of Education. “This standard will leave them well prepared to understand how the real world operates, and give them essential information and skills to solve real problems. Coupled with the right values, it will certainly help make our world a better place,” he said.
By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor