Sixty years ago, from today, President John F. Kennedy made a televised speech confirming the presence of nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba and demanding their removal, touching off a truly scary week now known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Before it was all done, the world came within a hair’s breadth of a Soviet submarine launching a nuclear torpedo at American Navy vessels and an American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft pilot, Rudolf Anderson Jr., had lost his life.
In fact, shock over that pilot’s loss of life in both the Soviet Union and the United States may have helped to defuse the situation. In the end, the United States and the Soviet Union backed down from a tremendous provocation that very nearly led to a nuclear conflict in the Western Hemisphere. Missiles were removed from Cuba and Turkey and the United States pledged not to invade Cuba.
It was an important time in history with messages that are still relevant today; but, don’t expect your child to learn much about this in Kentucky’s public schools. You see, the state’s current social studies standards never mention the “Cuban Missile Crisis,” “Kennedy,” or even the nation of “Cuba.”
Other states are not so slipshod with their social studies standards.
The detailed 2018 social studies standards for Massachusetts, a state well-regarded for its quality education system, specifically mention the “Cuban Missile Crisis,” “John F. Kennedy” (multiple times, actually), and “Cuba” (also with multiple mentions).
Even Mississippi – a state not highly regarded for education – has a 2018 revision to its social studies standards that lists the “Cuban Missile Crisis,” president “Kennedy” (twice) and “Cuba” (also with multiple mentions).
So, why are Kentucky’s students being so ill-served by the state’s fundamental guiding document for social studies that underlies everything from curriculum development to test questions while states from both ends of the education spectrum do a clearly better job of insuring all their students learn about critical events and people from US history?
You can do something about this. Our legislators have ultimate control over public education. We think they have the tools to send Kentucky’s clearly deficient social studies standards back for more work. Please let your legislators know our kids also need to know about things like the Cuban Missile Crisis that nearly triggered a nuclear disaster.