Call me crazy, an imbecile, a reactionary even…but shouldn’t a democratic society require its youngest citizens to learn the basic history, culture, politics and government of its own democracy?
According to the New York State Board of Regents, social studies is entirely unnecessary in the education of the modern American student.
Last summer, I began a letter-writing campaign to the Board of Regents in order to save the 5th and 8th grade state social studies tests. Dr. Jon King, head of P-12 Education at the NYS Education Department, was kind enough to fill me in on the details why, and especially to sympathize with our plight, as a former social studies teacher himself. Kudos to you, sir.
Now, it seems that the state wants to devise a system where social studies is not only eradicated from elementary education as a separate subject, but also from secondary education as well. According to Professor Alan Singer’s important post in today’s Huffington Post, the State is considering making the global studies and US History Regents exams NOT mandatory, even going so far as to charge districts for even administering them.
Furthermore, these exams would be part of an elective basket of exams high schoolers could pick and choose at will. A high school student could graduate with no social studies instruction at all.
And at the elementary schools? Well, in their smarmy talk, the Regents feels that the new Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics would also incorporate science and social studies into them, thereby eradicating them as separate subjects.
Why is this happening? Apart from the constant budget woes, the federal mandate gives no pass-fail requirements for social studies. If it isn’t tested, it isn’t taught–how many times do we have to repeat this?
New York used to be at the vanguard of education, but according to Steve Goldberg, president of the National Council for the Social Studies, a meeting with the Board of Regents was summed up by the following:
“After two hours of rhetoric by the regents and passionate, frustrated responses by the attendees, I reached the conclusion that New York, once a model for state wide social studies programs and assessments, had indeed plummeted and has joined the growing number of states where elementary social studies has been marginalized.”
New York joins other states that are not only negligent in their pursuit of a quality education for students, but traitorous in their move to deprive young people of the tools to become active citizens in their democracy.
What New York State is doing is nothing less than high treason.
It is CRIMINAL and TREASONOUS to allow our young people to go through education completely ignorant of not only their history, but the government that they will be a part of. When a government is “of the people, by the people and for the people”, it cannot work if the people are left in the dark about their government form and function.
Join the NCSS as well as the local bodies fighting for academic justice, the New York State Council for the Social Studies and the Long Island Council for the Social Studies. Let them know, and Washington as well, their actions not only deprive children of a quality education, but deprive our democracy of its most precious asset–informed citizens.
Here are the Regents’ contact information:
2016* Tisch, Merryl H.; B.A., M.A., Ed.D.
Chancellor; At Large
Regents Office, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 474-5889 Email: RegentTisch@mail.nysed.gov
2012* Cofield, Milton L.; B.S., M.B.A., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor; Judicial District VII – Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates
98 Hickory Ridge Road, Rochester, N.Y. 14625
Phone (585) 200-6284 Email: RegentCofield@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Bennett, Robert M.; B.A., M.S.
Chancellor Emeritus; Judicial District VIII — Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming
201 Millwood Lane, Tonawanda, NY 14150
Phone: (716) 645-1344 Email: RegentBennett@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Dawson, James C.; A.A, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.
Judicial District IV — Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington
166 U.S. Oval, Plattsburgh, NY 12903
Phone: (518) 324-2401 Email: RegentDawson@mail.nysed.gov
2016* Bottar, Anthony S.; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District V — Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego
120 Madison Street, Suite 1600, AXA Tower II, Syracuse, NY 13202
Phone: (315) 422-3466 Email: RegentBottar@mail.nysed.gov
2013* Chapey, Geraldine, D.; B.A., M.A., Ed.D.
Judicial District XI — Queens
107-10 Shore Front Parkway, Apt. 9C, Belle Harbor, NY 11694
Phone: (718) 634-8471 Email: RegentChapey@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Phillips 3rd, Harry; B.A., M.S.F.S.
Judicial District IX — Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester
71 Hawthorne Way, Hartsdale, NY 10530
Phone: (914) 948-2228 Email: RegentPhillips@mail.nysed.gov
2012* Tallon, Jr., James R. ; B.A., M.A.
Judicial District VI – Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins
United Hospital Fund, Empire State Building, 1411 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10018
Phone (212) 494-0777 Email: RegentTallon@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Tilles, Roger; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District X – Nassau, Suffolk
100 Crossways Park West, Suite 107, Woodbury, N.Y. 11797
Phone (516) 364-2533 Email: RegentTilles@mail.nysed.gov
2012* Bendit, Charles R.; B.A.
Judicial District I – New York
111 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1500, New York, N.Y. 10011
Phone (212) 220-9945 Email: RegentBendit@mail.nysed.gov
2013* Rosa, Betty A., B.A., M.S. in Ed., M.S. in Ed., M.Ed., Ed.D.
Judicial District XII – Bronx
Chambreleng Hall, Fordham University, 441 East Fordham Road, Bronx, N.Y. 10458
Phone (718) 817-5053 Email: RegentRosa@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Young, Jr., Lester W., B.S., M.S., Ed.D.
55 Hanson Place, Suite 400, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
Phone (718) 722-2796 Email: RegentYoung@mail.nysed.gov
2014* Cea, Christine D., B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
Judicial District XIII – Richmond
NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities
1050 Forest Hill Road, Staten Island, NY 10314
Phone (718) 494-5306 Email: RegentCea@mail.nysed.gov
2014* Norwood, Wade S., B.A.
74 Appleton Street, Rochester, NY 14611
Phone (585) 436-2944 Email: RegentNorwood@mail.nysed.gov
2014* Jackson, James O., B.S., M.A., Ph.D.
Judicial District III – Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster
238 Lenox Avenue, Albany, NY 12208
Phone (909) 233-8881 Email: RegentJackson@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Cashin, Kathleen M., B.S., M.S., Ed.D.
Judicial District II – Kings
Regents Office, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone (518) 474-5889 Email: RegentCashin@mail.nysed.gov
2014*Cottrell, James E. B.S., M.D.
SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Avenue, Box 6, Brooklyn, NY 11203-2098
Phone (718) 270-2331 Email: RegentCottrell@mail.nysed.gov
Petition to keep the Global History and Geography Regents as a Graduation Requirement
World map – Produced in Amsterdam First edition : 1689. Original size : 48.3 x 56.0 cm. Produced using copper engraving. Extremely rare set of maps, only known in one other example in the Amsterdam University. No copies in American libraries. In original hand color. Français : Carte du monde – Créée à Amsterdam Première édition : 1689. Taille originale : 48,3 x 56,0 cm. Eau forte. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’m so late to this party that it isn’t fashionable anymore.Yet some parties are so important it’s just as important to just show up.
As it broke in April, The New York State Board of Regents is considering a measure to make the Global History and Geography Regents examination optional for graduation with a state-endorsed diploma. Instead, students would opt to take another math or science course or another vocational course.
However, you still have to take the global history course…because it makes so much sense to take a class but not the final exam (cough, cough).
Never mind the obvious age-old agendas of gutting social studies to create automatons proficient enough in math, science and literacy to be submissive cogs in the corporate machine, yet ignorant of the workings of government, history, economics and geography so that they will be ill-equipped to participate fully in American democracy.
The motives for this one are both sinister and silly.
It is done under the guise of offering more educational options—more options at the expense of the hardest exam in the Regents system. The Global exam had a passing rate of about 60%, the lowest in the state.
So the move is less about well-rounded educational options and more about artificially boosting graduation rates.
Even more incredible, the test is mostly a test of reading comprehension, and less of a trivia contest. The low passing rates have little to do with the content. It has everything to do with students with subpar reading skills—often at or below 6th grade level for 10th graders.
The irresponsibility, deviousness and outright stupidity of this move is so self evident, I won’t waste any more words on it.
Below is a petition from Change.org to try to reverse the decision. The Board of Regents will make their final decision at their June meeting, so it’s important to sign soon.
The link is here. Make sure your voice is heard. Also, be sure to read Alan Singer’s column on the matter in the Huffington Post.
It’s bad enough our kids can’t find where they live on a map. Let’s at least teach them where the rest of the world is located.
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Tagged as Civil Rights, Commentary, current events, Curriculum, Education, education reform, Educational leadership, Global studies, History, Huffington Post, New York, New York City, New York State Board of Regents, Opinion, Regents Exam, Regents Examinations, Social studies, Standards, Teachers, Teaching, Test (assessment), United States, World, World History