Education Week reports that a “Popular Social Studies Curriculum Got an Internal Review. The Findings Weren’t Pretty.”
Some of the comments in the article point to items in a specific version of the social studies materials that was customized for Kentucky. This customized version was found to handle information about Native Americans in an inappropriate manner.
The EdWeek comments about Kentucky’s curricular materials are problematic enough, but with a very dubious revision to Kentucky’s social studies standards currently going through legislative review (see here for more on that), I found the closing paragraph in the EdWeek article, which includes quotes from Maureen Costello, the director of Teaching Tolerance, particularly troubling. EdWeek’s article says:
“There are very few elementary school teachers who have much background in social studies,” said Costello. Most are either reading or math specialists. “Very, very, very few of them either majored or minored in history,” she said. “They tend to replicate what they were taught.”
If Costello’s comments hold true in Kentucky, sending such teachers vague and incomplete social studies standards and expecting a really solid social studies curriculum to result just might not be the smart move. At the very least, the social studies materials EdWeek just panned got used in some Kentucky schools for some time before problems were ever identified. Since teachers have total control over curriculum in any school with a school council in the Bluegrass State, that raises concerns all by itself.