And, how would we know?
And, how will vague standards for social studies improve anything?
It is interesting that at the same time we are very concerned about forthcoming changes to the social studies standards in Kentucky’s public schools, a nationally-known education reporter, Stephen Sawchuk of Education Week, is writing about the absence of news coverage discussing what is actually getting included in the day-to-day classroom instruction.
In The Hidden Stories on Classroom Curriculum, Sawchuk writes, “What students learn every day in their classes is the core of the K-12 enterprise. And yet, unless it’s part of a really terrible lesson that goes viral, content is rarely the focal point for education news coverage.” Continues Sawchuk, “Curriculum quality is one of those hiding-in-plain-sight stories.”
The story is indeed hiding in Kentucky. But, it’s a major problem in the Bluegrass State, where the state’s commissioner of education, Wayne Lewis, recently offered the following comments:
“There is significant variation, to Mr. Innes’ point, significant variation in the quality of curriculum that is adopted at the local level.”
“We have everything from schools that have really researched and done an amazing job of adopting really high quality, rigorous curriculum that aligns with the standards and, unfortunately, we still do have some schools in Kentucky – not just in social studies – that do not have curriculum.”
So, even per the Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Kentucky has a major problem with curriculum quality at the very same time curriculum and the classroom activities directed by that curriculum are receiving scant attention in the press.
Thus, Kentucky has a big problem, but even Sawchuk knows the public isn’t being informed about it.
This is an especially serious situation just now as the state is poised to adopt some really vague and deficient social studies standards. Those new standards are supposed to guide curriculum developers as they develop their detailed, day-to-day instructional plans. Vague standards don’t provide adequate guidance to the curriculum folks (or, for that matter, to test writers, either).
In any event, the Bluegrass State is perilously close to seeing those deficient social studies standards, which don’t even mention Abraham Lincoln or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., become the only guidance our state curriculum writers and test developers are going to get. If the legislature’s Interim Joint Education Committee doesn’t take action, the standards will go into effect.
Sawchuk would probably be unhappy, and I guarantee a lot of Kentuckians will be once they finally learn what is going on. But, as Sawchuk points out, this might not be something you will hear about in the mainstream media. So far, as Sawchuk laments, it seems like the media folks just aren’t paying much attention.