There was an interesting surprise during the public comment segment of the Kentucky Board of Education meeting on October 7, 2014.
Donnie Wilkerson, a fifth-grade teacher at Jamestown Elementary School in Russell County, traveled to Frankfort on his own to share his deep concerns about proposed revisions to the state’s social studies education standards. Wilkerson’s comments make it apparent that the recent, sharp flare-up over problems with the AP US History Course (see here, here and here) will likely extend to the development of Kentucky’s social studies standards, as well.
As far as I could determine, Wilkerson, who was named Kentucky History Teacher of the Year in 2011, spoke entirely on his own. His comments were insightful, candid and critical. And, he spoke as a social studies insider.
Wilkerson says he was part of a group of teachers assembled in 2013 to create Kentucky’s new social studies standards. He says the original charter for that group was to look at the research and consider all options. Initially working through electronic meetings, the group’s first order of business was to develop a “Scope and Sequence” for the presentation of social studies in Kentucky. Such a document would contain a fair amount of detail about which core subjects and activities would be commonly required statewide.
However, Wilkerson points out that at the group’s first face-to-face meeting the members were informed that only one option could be considered, a social studies standard built around the C3 Framework for social studies (Click the “Read more” link for more on C3). At that face-to-face meeting the important scope and sequence work was declared unnecessary. Per Wilkerson, history was to be downplayed in importance.
At one point during the meeting, a person from out of state was prevented from telling the Kentucky social studies work group why Oklahoma decided not to use the C3 Framework model.
Apparently, the demands did not sit well with the social studies standards development group. In the end, Wilkerson’s group was disbanded and another, presumably more C3 amenable group, was assembled in May 2014 to create the draft standards presented at the board meeting on October 7, 2014. The resulting product, charges Wilkerson, is virtually devoid of content.
Overall, Wilkerson’s short presentation was shocking, and I think you deserve to hear him directly. So, just click on the video link below to hear the story of Kentucky’s social studies proposals in Wilkerson’s own words.