Study: No Longer A City On A Hill: Massachusetts Degrades Its K–12 History Standards

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education should reject a proposed rewrite of the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework in its entirety and immediately restore the state’s 2003 framework, considered among the strongest in the country, according to a new research paper titled, No Longer a City on a Hill: Massachusetts Degrades Its K-12 History Standards, published by Pioneer Institute.

“The 2018 revision fails to provide effective history education. It must be replaced with a framework that requires much of students but offers them, in return, a share of our common treasure,” wrote the paper’s authors, David Randall, director of research at the National Association of Scholars; Will Fitzhugh, founder of the The Concord Review, and Jane Robbins, senior fellow at the American Principles Project.

The authors argue that the draft of the new framework, released for public comment in January, “eviscerates” the 2003 framework and degrades it in five ways.

  1. It replaces coherent sequences of American and European history with incoherent fragments.
  2. It is 50 percent longer than the 2003 framework and presents the standards in “unreadable education-school jargon.”
  3. It replaces the earlier framework’s full account of our country’s European past and replaces much of it with “the history of politically correct protest movements.”
  4. It allots insufficient time for students to learn European and American history.
  5. It eliminates the already developed 2009 history MCAS assessment and substitutes hollow “expectations” for each grade.

“Each of the 2018 Revision’s failings is sufficient to disqualify it as an adequate standard for K–12 history instruction,” according to the authors. “It should be rejected outright.”

In 2003 the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework was created as part of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act. It contained grade-by-grade standards for core essential learning. While history instruction in K-12 schools has been in decline for decades, according to the authors, history education in Massachusetts has fared better until changes were made in 2009.

In 2009 the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) suspended the history and social science framework. In 2016 the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) introduced a rewrite of the framework, the result of what the authors called “an exercise in progressive educational propaganda and vocational training for how to be a political activist.” The rewrite was approved by BESE and posted for public comment in January 2018.

Along with rejecting the revised standards outright, the authors made several recommendations on ways that DESE could strengthen civics instruction in the state.

These include turning the 2003 framework’s United States Government elective into a required course; endorsing the Civics Education Initiative, already enacted in 15 states, which requires high school students to pass the same test that immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship must pass; and adding a civics component to the MCAS history test.

The Pioneer paper features a preface from Paul Reid, the co-author with William Manchester of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965.  In 2004, Manchester requested that Reid complete the last volume of Manchester’s Churchill trilogy.  The book was a New York Times bestseller and named one of the best books of 2012 by The Wall Street Journal.

About the Authors

David Randall is Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars. He received his PhD in History from Rutgers University.

Will Fitzhugh earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard. He founded The Concord Review, which for 30 years, has published student history essays from around the globe.

Jane Robbins is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. She earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Stay Connected!

 

Related Posts

The COVID-19 Impact on Massachusetts Community College Enrollment & Success Trends

Enrollment at Massachusetts community colleges has dropped 32.61…

Patterns Among Cape Cod Communities with a High Proportion of Private School Students

/
In Massachusetts, the association between education and demographic…

Elevating Liberal Democracy Above Fragmentation – 30 Resources for Citizens and Schools

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Elevating Liberal Democracy Above Fragmentation.

A truly progressive student loan policy

/
This op-ed originally appeared in the Boston Globe. It was written…

Aurora Institute’s Susan Patrick on Digital Learning Lessons from COVID-19

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Susan Patrick, the President and CEO of Aurora Institute and co-founder of CompetencyWorks. Susan shares observations about the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for American K-12 education, and the prospects for expanding digital learning.

Court Preserves Privacy: First Amendment Ruling Defends Non-Profits From Modern-Day McCarthyism

Hubwonk Host Joe Selvaggi talks with CATO research fellow and constitutional scholar Trevor Burrus about the recent Supreme Court ruling, Americans For Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, reaffirming the right to privacy by denying the state of California the right to compel non-profits to disclose their list of donors.

Celebrating American Independence! – 50 Resources on America’s Founding for Schoolchildren & Citizens

American schoolchildren need to know more about the basic history of and lessons from the American Revolution and War for Independence, including perhaps the greatest leader and hero the country has ever produced, George Washington. To do our small part to help the cause, we’re offering a variety of resources to help parents, teachers, schoolchildren, and citizens better celebrate the Fourth of July!

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Prof. David Hackett Fischer on Paul Revere, George Washington, & American Independence

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with David Hackett Fischer, University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History Emeritus at Brandeis University, and the author of numerous books, including Paul Revere's Ride and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington's Crossing. As America prepares to celebrate the Fourth of July, they review key figures who helped secure independence from Great Britain, including Paul Revere, immortalized in Longfellow’s classic poem, and Founding Father George Washington, known among his contemporaries as the “indispensable man” of the revolutionary cause.

“The Jazz Age” – 1920s America – 50 Resources for High School Students

American schoolchildren need to know more about the basics of the history of and lessons from the 1920s, which did as much as any decade to shape our modern country in the last century. To remedy this, we’re offering a variety of resources to help parents, teachers, and high schoolers:

Jo Napolitano on the Inspiring Stories of Immigrant Children

This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Jo Napolitano, journalist, former Spencer Fellow at Columbia University, and author of the new book, The School I Deserve: Six Young Refugees and Their Fight for Equality in America, about the enterprising spirit of immigrants and refugees across the nation and at the U.S.-Mexico border.

AEI’s Naomi Schaefer Riley on Parenting, Excessive Screen Time, & Religion in American Education

/
This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Naomi Schaefer Riley, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of several books, including Be the Parent, Please.

Monarchs of the Sea – American Boats, Ships, & their Captains – 40 Resources for High School Students

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Celebrating American Boats, Ships, & their Captains.

New York Times Best Seller Paul Reid on Winston Churchill, WWII, & the Cold War

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Paul Reid, co-author, with William Manchester, of the New York Times best-selling biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965. Reid shares how he was enlisted to complete William Manchester’s biographical trilogy on the greatest political figure of the 20th century, which became a best-seller.

“Ballast for the Ship of State” – The U.S. Senate – 40 Resources for High School Students

The U.S. Senate’s vital, though sometimes dormant, authority in the face of the Imperial Presidency means few Americans and schoolchildren truly understand its constitutional role and inner workings. To remedy this, we’re offering a variety of resources to help parents, teachers, and high schoolers.

BU’s Dr. Farouk El-Baz on NASA’s Moon Landing, Remote Sensing, & STEM

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Farouk El-Baz, retired research professor and director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University. They discuss his remarkable, varied, and pioneering career in the sciences, surveying both the heavens and the Earth, and key teachers and scientists who have influenced him. Dr. El-Baz shares what it was like serving as supervisor of Lunar Science Planning for NASA's Apollo program, and working on the world-changing project of putting a human on the Moon.

Rafe Esquith on Teaching Shakespeare to Inner-City LA Students

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Rafe Esquith, an award-winning teacher at Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles, and the founder of The Hobart Shakespeareans, who annually stage performances of unabridged plays by William Shakespeare. He shares why he founded the award-winning program to teach disadvantaged Los Angeles elementary school students a classical humanities curriculum, the most inspiring experiences and the biggest challenges of teaching highly demanding literary works to young schoolchildren from diverse backgrounds.

Law Prof. Melvin Urofsky on Justice Louis Brandeis, the SCOTUS, & Dissenting Opinions

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Melvin Urofsky, Professor of Law & Public Policy and Professor Emeritus of History at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the author of several books, including Louis D. Brandeis: A Life and Dissent and the Supreme Court. Professor Urofsky shares insights on Justice Brandeis’s jurisprudence, and why he consistently ranks among the three most influential Supreme Court justices in American history.

“The Road to the Stars” – U.S. Space Exploration – 25 Resources for K-12 Students

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Celebrating U.S. Space Exploration.