Earlier this month the Council of Chief State School Officers released the draft of the “College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. I just got my hands on a copy yesterday and skimmed through it.
It focuses on civics, economics, geography and history. States involved in the project are: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
It is unclear what state involvement in the creation of Social Studies standards means for future implementation. I’m not certain whether these states signed an Memorandum of Understanding similar to what they did with the Common Core State Standards. You can see that some of the same players are involved as associate members, such as, Pearson. It is heavily tied into the Common Core ELA standards which was expected.
Having skimmed through this my primary concern is the encouragement of civic and political activism. While on its face that isn’t a bad thing, but I have to wonder what is encouraged. I saw where potential indoctrination could occur within the Civics section. I have little hope from what I’ve seen from progressive elements within public education that this won’t be the case. The task force of professional organizations related to this gives me little hope for ideological diversity and I while I don’t know for certain looking at the writing team (pg. 8) I am doubtful it exists there as well.
I noticed that on pg. 29 it is mentioned we live in a constitutional democracy when in fact we live in a constitutional republic. It is troubling that those writing this document couldn’t get something as basic as that right.
Pg. 18 points out their definition of an “active and responsible citizen" which appears to be what they hope the “product” of these standards will be:
Active and responsible citizens identify and analyze public problems; deliberate with other people about how to define and address issues; take constructive, collaborative action; reflect on their actions; create and sustain groups; and influence institutions both large and small. They vote, serve on juries, follow the news and current events, and participate in voluntary groups and efforts. Teaching students to act in these ways—as citizens—significantly enhances preparation for college and career. Many of the same skills that are needed for active and responsible citizenship—working effectively with other people, deliberating and reasoning quantitatively about issues, following the news, and forming and sustaining groups—are also crucial to success in the 21st century workplace and in college. Individual mastery of content often no longer suffices; students should also develop the capacity to work together to apply knowledge to real problems. Thus, a rich social studies education is an education for college, career, and civic life.
Discussion of “Applying Civic Virtues and Democratic Principles” (pgs. 31-32) also raise a red flag for me. They define Democratic principles in their glossary on pg. 70 as “the fundamental ideas and ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and other early influential documents.”
That’s fine, but then one of the goals is “describe democratic principles such as equality and fairness.” Also what do they consider a “human right” that isn’t a “constitutional right”?
Anyway, my intent here is not to provide an in-depth review, but share a couple of thoughts after skimming through this document. I’m sure many questions will be asked and the final product will look different. Please take the time to read through the framework provided below for yourself.