In a rather stunning development, former member of the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) Gary Houchens, who also is a Bluegrass Institute Scholar, now agrees that:
What makes this particularly attention-getting is that Houchens – a professor in the education school at Western Kentucky University with a background in social studies – was actually a key player in getting those “need more work” standards approved in the first place. At the time in early 2019, he believed that teachers could overcome the vagueness and weakness of the standards to create good classroom instruction.
But, that was then.
Flash forward to this summer, which has made it vividly clear that social studies instruction has been very deficient for a long time. Couple that with some of the disappointing if not outright disturbing supporting material that has been created for the new social studies standards and Dr. Houchens has changed his mind.
He now agrees with the gist of our many posts about the serious deficiencies and omissions in the standards (see some of those blogs here, here, here and here). The comments I provided as the standards were being developed were in fact spot on target, and now even Houchens agrees that the existing standards need more work.
But, there is more. What really adds urgency to the need to recall these horrible standards shows up in additional research Houchens reports in:
Yes sir! That is what happens when you create vague and incomplete standards. The door gets open wide for inappropriate teaching that most Kentuckians will not support. But, this sort of nonsense is acceptable under the vague standards Kentucky adopted last summer.
Houchens’ writes of the standards that:
“I have come to believe that they are woefully inadequate in terms of the specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions we should expect of our graduates.”
He continues, saying:
“…some of the supporting materials around the standards are extremely problematic and promote a terribly inadequate understanding of America’s past.”
There you have it.
Bottom Line: When a leading member of the board of education that passed the social studies standards now admits those standards are very problematic, it’s time for our legislators to get involved. The standards are adopted by regulation, and any member of the Administrative Regulation Review Committee, and maybe even a member of the subject matter committee, which in this case would be the Interim Committee on Education, can call for a review of that adopting regulation. After review, the committee can find a regulation deficient and send it, and in this case the social studies standards incorporated by reference, back to the Kentucky Board of Education for more work.
And that is exactly what Dr. Houchens now agrees with us needs to happen.