Regular readers of this blog know I am no fan of the current edition of Kentucky’s public school social studies standards (Use the search term “Social Studies” to find many critical blogs). The state’s standards are excessively long on vague process but virtually devoid of content.
The amount of important historical material that is ignored is staggering. Only two presidents, Washington and Jefferson, are ever mentioned, while examples of important personalities like inventors such as Thomas Edison and political activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also are also omitted completely. Invention of the radio, computer, automobile, steam engine, airplane, printing press, atom bomb and tons more are absent, too.
Another ignored historical figure of major importance is Abraham Lincoln. He is never mentioned even though he was born in Kentucky. Why was this done? Click the “Read more” link to see some interesting speculation.
Basically, in their wild chase over empty and unproved Ed School theories, it seems to have escaped the people who created Kentucky’s hollow social studies standards that kids cannot begin to intelligently analyze history if they don’t know much history in the first place. These people, who are charged with the education of our state’s young people, also seem to have lost sight of the fact that without a common core of shared historical knowledge, the very fabric of our country starts to unravel.
Thus, it’s been a mystery. Why were such vacuous standards ever adopted?
Well, thanks to a recent Tweet, I now might have an interesting clue.
— Bob Bowdon (@BobBowdon) May 22, 2020
Like almost all other US presidents, Abraham Lincoln – who was actually born in Kentucky, don’t forget – is NEVER even mentioned in the state’s social studies standards. Not once!
We’re told that he is included because there are some loose references to covering the Civil War. Well, the last time I checked, Lincoln was born well before that war started. Loose Civil War references don’t guarantee his birthplace will ever be mentioned.
The war also came well after Lincoln became an adult, of course. So, facts about his upbringing are not by any stretch of the imagination included through a vague mention of the civil war.
But, why is Lincoln omitted? Thanks to the Tweet, I got an interesting notion.
You see, Lincoln was essentially homeschooled. He spent very little time in any regular school settings, and those experiences were quite disjointed and short-interval.
How could this relate to Lincoln as a personality being dumped out of the social studies standards?
Well, right after their dislike of school choice options like charter schools comes a general public school educator uneasiness with homeschoolers. Homeschooling upsets for several reasons.
First, it’s well-known that many parents do a great job of homeschooling without ever spending time in an Education School. How embarrassing for teachers and Ed School types, too.
Second, every kid who stays home for school means another slug of attendance-based school dollars doesn’t ever get to the public school system. We know the public school crowd will do almost anything to get those dollars (like cancelling long-standing inter-district transfer agreements that used to allow Kentucky students to go to the school system that best fit them).
Third, there is also educator horror about having no control over what parents are actually teaching their kids. Homeschoolers are not subject to the public school party line. That includes the fact that homeschoolers are not smothered by the deficiencies in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts (which create much confusion in lower grades while omitting pretty much all math after Algebra and cover math subjects too late for many more advanced students) or the Next Generation Science Standards (which omit basically all high school level chemistry and physics and even – by intent – fail to cover electric circuits!).
Kentucky’s current standards for math, reading, writing and science are heavily influenced by these problematic standards.
Homeschool kids are also beyond public school constrictions when it comes to the social studies, including history.
Public school folks probably don’t want to advertise that homeschooling can, and has, worked before. After all, we can’t have people floating around who know more than our public school kids know.
And, teachers sure don’t want to give up even one penny of that attendance bounty each public school student brings to the public school coffers.
So, maybe omitting Lincoln as an important person makes more sense than I thought – IF you are a public school person who doesn’t want any competition – or embarrassment from someone with no formal education training doing a better job.