Our regular readers know Kentucky is in the process of adopting new standards for social studies, and we at the Bluegrass Institute think the current revision approved by the Kentucky Board of Education on April 10, 2019 is highly unacceptable.
But, what would others think?
A Jay Leno “Man in the Street” video provides some insight. In this video Leno asks high school students about their history and geography knowledge. The answers are pretty disturbing.
I applied Leno’s questions to the revision that the state board approved. Here’s how that worked out:
Leno question: What countries make up Great Britain?
Kentucky’s new social studies standards only mention Great Britain one time in Grade 4 Standard 4.E.MA.1, “Compare and contrast different ways that the government interacts with the economy.”
This is only a question about government, not the countries that make up Great Britain. I see no indication that Kentucky’s students will ever be required to know what countries make up Great Britain.
Great Britain is one of the lucky few to even get one mention in the standards. Other countries like Germany are not mentioned at all (more on that later).
Want to see more shocking examples and how you can help stop this? Click the “Read more link.”
Leno question: If someone says they are going to Great Britain, what language will they speak when they get there?
Nothing in the proposed Kentucky standards deals with many of languages spoken around the world. The French language, Spanish language, German Language, Hindu Language, Chinese Language and many more are simple absent.
Strangely, one of the few languages that is mentioned is the Swahili Language. Does that mean all the rest are not to be taught? Or at least not to be tested? Don’t forget, Senate Bill 1 from the 2017 Regular Legislative Session says on Page 20, lines 9 to 10:
“The statewide assessments shall not include any academic standards not approved by the board under subsection (2) of this section.”
It looks like our tests might be able to ask a question about Swahili, but not about German or Spanish. Is that what we want?
It gets much worse than just ignoring languages. The existence of many individual countries is never mentioned. Germany, with which the United States fought two major world wars, is never listed anywhere! Italy, an ally in World War I then an enemy in World War II is also ignored completely. So is Vietnam, another country where the United States was involved in a significant shooting war.
Leno Question: If you met someone from Amsterdam, what nationality would they be?
Not only do the Kentucky standards never mention the Dutch, but their country, Holland, is also ignored.
Leno question: What is the world’s tallest mountain?
Don’t look for Mount Everest anywhere in the new Kentucky social studies standards. It isn’t there. The Appalachian Mountains are mentioned in First Grade Standard 1.C.KGO.2’s expanded discussion, but the Rocky Mountains, Smoky Mountains and a whole lot more are not. How can we be sure our kids will learn about these important geographic areas if they are not even in the social studies standards?
Leno question: What are people from Denmark called?
Kentucky’s kids will be clueless. The country of Denmark does not exist in the new standards. The Danes are not mentioned, either. Strangely, the Vikings are mentioned in the expansion of Grade 7 Standard 7.G.MM.1. But, while modern day Norway gets one mention in Grade 3 Standard 3.C.CV.1, Sweden does not.
Sweden and Denmark are out. Modern day Vikings won’t be happy.
Leno question: How many Great Lakes are there?
Kentucky’s kids will be left high and dry on this one, too. The term “Great Lakes” is absent in the proposed revision. So are the names “Lake Superior,” “Lake Michigan,” “Lake Huron,” “Lake Erie” and “Lake Ontario.”
In response to a Leno question, a high school student says Florida lies by the Pacific Ocean.
Kentucky’s proposed standards would leave the state’s students clueless on this error. You see, the term “Pacific Ocean” never appears in the proposed social studies standards.
Leno question: What is the largest country in South America.
Kentucky’s kids will score zero on this, too, because Brazil isn’t mentioned anywhere. In fact, the entire continent of “South America” isn’t named even once in the standards. Central America is also ignored.
Will Kentucky’s children even learn there are nations south of Mexico?
So, looking over Leno’s questions, I think he would be shocked to see what Kentucky is proposing for new social studies standards.
Fortunately, the die is not set on this. The standards get adopted by regulation, and that regulation, 704 KAR 8:060, is currently scheduled for review by the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee on May 14, 2019. If you don’t think such incomplete standards are appropriate, please let your legislator know and if they don’t serve on this committee, ask you legislator to pass along your concerns to the committee chairs, Senator Stephen West and Representative David Hale. Ask them to find this regulation clearly deficient and to send it back to the Kentucky Board of Education for a lot more work.
You can find information on the members of the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee by clicking here.
The web page has links for each member that provide individual contact information.