Monday, January 25, 2016

Kentucky science and social studies standards contain almost no academic content and the problem with them is ... cursive writing

Richard Day at Kentucky School News and Commentary is apparently upset that State Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt is going to include a new state standard covering cursive writing.

First he goes after critics of the contentless new state science and social studies standards:

One supposes the delays in fully implementing Science and Social Studies is political avoidance behavior. Politically, these catch the most opposition—from climate change deniers and to those who would remove Thomas Jefferson from U. S. History books. Perhaps the word came down from On High. How else might we explain why Pruitt, until recently the nation's lead science standards guy, is taking his foot off the gas.

But instead, apparently Kentucky will add 21st century standards for cursive writing, but not the critical skill of shoe lace tying.

Yeah, those deniers who are upset about a whole semester unit on climate change in Kindergarten, before they even know about, oh, I don't know, nature. In fact the science standards contain little about actual study of nature, which is actually interesting for younger students, and opting instead for technological abstractions that are sure to bore children stiff.

Similarly with the social studies standards, which,instead of teaching children about the rich history of America and the Western world, have Kindergartners identifying "ways that physical and cultural characteristics may affect people living in a place."

If these people don't turn off a whole generation of students to history and science, it will be a miracle.

Oh, and then there's this in the Kindergarten social studies standards:

K.GR.9 Human—Environment Interaction Identify the characteristics of climate and explain how it affect peoples’ lives in specific places.

No mention of George Washington, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, the Liberty Bell, the Revolutionary War, the U.S.S. Constitution, the Star Spangled Banner, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, World War II, Civil Rights, Martin Luther King, Jr., or the Vietnam War. But we just can't get enough of climate change. In fact, although all of these other people and events are never mentioned in Kindergarten, climate change is mentioned five times.

And I'm wondering why Day is concerned about other people removing Thomas Jefferson from the history books when Jefferson seems to be absent from the state's proposed social studies standards, along with virtually every other historical figure, event, and document.

And then there's cursive, which Day obviously doesn't like. Of course, I can't think of a better way to prevent students from reading any of the original documents that Jefferson wrote, since they were all penned in cursive. In fact, good luck reading any original source material from about 50 years ago and before if all you know is manuscript writing.

If you wanted to erase a nation's cultural memory, you couldn't do it any better than with standards like these.

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