Commentary: Hillsdale College’s 1776 Curriculum

Hand underneath American flag

On July 19, Hillsdale College released the 1776 Curriculum, a package of American history and civics materials for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The curriculum offers students and teachers a more traditional and patriotic approach to American history than the critical alternatives now prevalent in the nation’s primary and secondary schools.

At nearly 2,500 pages, the 1776 Curriculum is a mammoth collection of teaching materials, offering grade-specific guidance for teachers, assignments and exams for students, and a trove of primary sources from the American founding and beyond. In a press release, Hillsdale’s assistant provost for K-12 education Dr. Katherine O’Toole contrasted what she described as Hillsdale’s “truly American” curriculum with its “partisan” competitors.

“Our curriculum was created by teachers and professors – not activists, not journalists, not bureaucrats,” O’Toole said. “It comes from years of studying America, its history, and its founding principles, not some slap-dash journalistic scheme to achieve a partisan political end through students. It is a truly American education.”

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Commentary: Reorienting the Purpose and Practice of Academic Assessment

Person filling in exam answers

Our K-12 schools are organized more like a swim meet than a swim lesson. The emphasis is on student placement results rather than on ensuring all students learn. Students move on to the next lesson, concept, or skill regardless of whether mastery was achieved at the previous level.

Donald P. Nielsen explains this analogy in Every School: One Citizen’s Guide to Transforming Education:

In a swimming meet, the purpose is to determine who is the fastest swimmer. In public schools we spend a lot of time grading students on what they have learned and then ranking them, rather than ensuring that every child has learned. What we need, however, is a public school system that is organized like a swimming lesson. In a swimming lesson, the instructor’s goal is different. The goal is to make sure all students, even the slowest, learn how to swim. Swimming meets can be a result of swimming lessons, and grading can be a result of learning, but ranking students by ability should not be the primary goal of teachers or of the system as a whole.

In swimming, as in any other athletic or artistic endeavor, classes are grouped based upon the current achievement level of the students, not based on age. A swimming coach would never consider putting advanced swimmers and beginning swimmers in the same class, even if they were of the same age. Similarly, a music teacher would not put an advanced piano player in a class with beginners…. Age is not a relevant factor in either swimming or piano lessons, but it is the overriding factor in our schools. No other major learning activity is strictly age-based. Our schools shouldn’t be either.

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Commentary: Twenty Billion Reasons to Take Homeschooling More Seriously

Boy in gray shirt on laptop at home

American public education is so hard to reform because of its great size. The economy of K-12 education here is bigger than some countries, and we’re not talking rinky-dink countries either.

“Federal, state, and local governments spend $720.9 billion, or $14,840 per pupil, to fund K-12 public education,” reports the website Education Data.

By contrast, the annual gross domestic product of oil giant Saudi Arabia in 2017 was only $687 billion, according to World Bank statistics. That same year, Switzerland, with its banks, watches, cheese, and army knives, raked in only $679 billion.

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1776 Commission Urges States: Oppose Biden Funding for ‘Teaching of Racial Discrimination’ in K-12

Girl at school desk with bow in hair, writing

A Trump administration commission tasked with promoting “patriotic education” is calling on the Biden administration to withdraw a proposal to fund history and civics programs informed by critical race theory (CRT).

The 1776 Commission met in D.C. Monday despite being disbanded by President Biden on his first day in office. It published its final report just two days before the presidential transfer of power.

The proposed federal rule would prioritize funding for history and civics curricula that consider “systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history” and incorporate “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives.” It favorably cites Boston University professor Ibram Kendi, the foremost popularizer of “anti-racism,” and the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

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Social Justice Favorites Including LGBT+, Climate Change Take a Prominent Role in the New Draft of Social Studies Standards in Minnesota

Minnesota’s newly proposed social studies standards for public schools place significant emphasis on race, gender, climate change and LGBT issues.

Under the first draft of the proposed standards, students will be asked to “develop a respectful awareness about how ideas and norms about gender have changed over time,” accept that “some forms of slavery continued even after emancipation” and learn how the “fight for social justice” continues today.

Students will also be asked to “analyze how resistance movements in the U.S. have organized and responded to oppression,” and “imagine and work toward an equitable and caring future” in keeping with the social justice model.

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Commentary: Now That School Security is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry, is There a Better Way to Protect Children?

by Kerry McDonald   U.S. taxpayers spend nearly $700 billion each year on K-12 public schooling and that eye-popping sum shows no sign of slowing. In fact, as more non-academic programs get adopted in schools across the country, the price-tag for mass schooling continues to swell even as achievement lags.…

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