The purpose of this paper is to take a closer look at the states that have designed strong history standards and note what has made them exceptional so other states might do the same. They include Alabama, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, and South Carolina.
About Anders Lewis
Anders Lewis is a history teacher and chair of the History Department at the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School in Marlborough. He previously worked at the Massachusetts Department of Education, where he helped write the commonwealth’s History and Social Science Curriculum Framework and create the History and Social Science MCAS test. He earned a Masters and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Florida.
A resurgence of interest in civic virtue and a new emphasis on teaching civics in our schools is needed in our country. Teachers need opportunities beyond college to learn the intricacies of government and how to teach it. Pioneer Institute reached out to four professional development programs with nationally known reputations to learn more about their offerings.
The Founders of the American experiment in democracy assumed that understanding American history was essential in a Union where publicspirited citizenship and the capacity to live under laws “wholesome and necessary for the public good” would characterize the new nation. To proceed without the knowledge of history, in their view, was a sure path to “a tragedy or a farce.”
Across Massachusetts public schools, history teachers believe that the study of U.S. history through the grades is in jeopardy if not in a poor state altogether.1 To judge from recent national tests, students are graduating from the state’s high schools as well as from high schools across the country with little understanding of our nation’s history, its founding principles, its major institutions, and the central figures and events that shaped who we are as a people.