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Ohio House lawmakers proposing extremist right-wing rewrite of state social studies curriculum




Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Ohio’s legislative majority continues its dishonest attacks on democracy in the Buckeye State. House Bill 103 is a shameful attempt to micromanage Ohio K-12 educational curriculum based on ideology that is rooted in the politically motivated culture wars.

HB 103 seeks to replace curriculum created in Ohio, for Ohio’s schools and students, with “American Birthright” social studies standards created by outside interests to indoctrinate children with partisan political views. Social studies standards included in “American Birthright” represent extreme efforts to overhaul public K-12 curricula to align with the dictates of culture war ideology.

According to the American Historical Association, HB 103 would establish a new, politically appointed Social Studies Standards Task Force, consisting of nine members appointed by the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House, to produce new state social studies standards for K-12 schools. The legislation, the AHA wrote, “would create an entirely new bureaucratic apparatus as a strategy for overruling an open, democratic, and professional process” …. for “a radical overhaul of history and social studies education in Ohio.”

The National Council for the Social Studies has determined that the suggested social studies “American Birthright” standards developed by the Civics Alliance do not align with best practices related to the development of social studies standards. If implemented in schools, these suggested standards would have damaging and lasting effects on the civic knowledge of students and their capacity to engage in civic reasoning and deliberation. NCSS does not endorse nor support the use of these standards. In making this determination, NCSS relied upon its 102 years of experience in supporting the teaching and learning of social studies.

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) is a U.S.-based association devoted to supporting social studies education. Founded in 1921, NCSS engages and supports educators in strengthening and advocating social studies. With members in all the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 69 foreign countries, NCSS serves as an umbrella organization for elementary, secondary, and college teachers of history, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law-related education.

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) is an American politically conservative education advocacy organization aimed at “reforming higher education.” It advocates against multiculturalism, diversity policies, and against courses focused on race and gender issues. In 2021, NAS created the Civics Alliance to promote the 1776 Curriculum, published by Hillsdale College, to “reform K-12 education.” The Civics Alliance has existed for 2 years and has very little experience in supporting the teaching and learning of social studies. In promoting “American Birthright” social studies standards, the Civics Alliance relied upon its 2 years of “expertise” in supporting the teaching and learning of social studies.

How ludicrous that anyone could even consider the Civics Alliance as a credible source for new social studies curriculum standards!

According to a detailed investigative report about the American Birthright curriculum by Kathryn Joyce, much of “American Birthright” reflects recent education fights. For example, the document calls on the federal government to “withdraw from regulating or funding any aspect of K-12 education,” to pass legislation prohibiting “discriminatory pedagogies and action civics” (CRT and SEL), to require that high school studies classes teach “Western civilization” and that all academic standards be approved by state governors and legislatures, and to reform teaching licensure to “end the gatekeeping power of the education schools and departments.”

Joyce points out that “American Birthright” instructs curriculum makers to teach that many more enslaved Africans were transported to Latin America or the Caribbean than the U.S. and suggests comparing U.S. slavery to “different forced-labor regimes, including Muslim slavery, Eastern Europe’s Second Serfdom, African slavery [and] American Indian slavery.” The standards also suggest that 19th-century European imperialism should be taught as a boon to colonized people, accounting for “Improved life expectancy and growing populations among colonized peoples” as well as the “Abolitions of slavery.”

Please read Kathryn Joyce’s report for more crazy examples of ideas included in “American Birthright” social studies standards.

Most Ohioans would agree that there should be much higher priorities for our elected leaders than adopting new curriculum standards based on fabricated culture war issues. Such frivolous bills are a distraction from what is really happening and what really needs to be done at the Ohio Statehouse to support both K-12 and higher education.

We must demand better from our elected leaders.

This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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