Connecticut’s Social Studies Standards Fail Students, Report Finds

National Association of Scholars

New York, NY; February 21, 2024—The Civics Alliance has just released Disowned Yankees: How Connecticut's Social Studies Standards Shortchange Students. This report provides a detailed critique of the Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Standards (2023) (hereafter, Standards), which fails to achieve the fundamental goal of American social studies education.

“The Standards does not teach Connecticut’s children what freedom is,” said David Randall, report author and Executive Director of the Civics Alliance. “Nor does the Standards teach where America’s ideas of freedom come from in the long history of Western civilization, nor how our ancestors achieved their freedom, nor how our laws and republican institutions limit the scope of government to preserve our freedom, nor what is necessary to preserve that liberty.”

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), enabled by misguided legislation and a secretive bureaucratic process, has produced a document that is bloated, vague, riddled with errors, distortions, and absences, and animated by a radical identity-politics ideology (sometimes known as Critical Race Theory) that permeates the Standards with hostility to groups such as whites, men, and Christians—and, above all, with hostility to America. Social studies instruction should teach students to appreciate America’s original and ongoing fight for freedom; the Standards teaches them to hate America because it has not yet achieved the nightmare of equity.

Connecticut will suffer many ways from these Standards’ degradation of K-12 social studies instruction. Of course they will have an immediate and harmful effect on classroom social studies instruction, by inducing school districts and teachers to adapt their curriculum to these standards. They also will distort textbook creation and professional development, since these too will have to meet these Standards’ requirements. In the long run, Connecticut will suffer most because its children will have been educated to hate their society, their state, and many of their fellow citizens.

This report outlines both how CSDE produced the Standards and the substantive result. The Standards were produced by bureaucratic means, drafted in a difficult-to-read format, suffused in radical jargon and pedagogy, thus teaching a tattered caricature of history and civics, which will produce radical activists who hate their country rather than self-reliant citizens who love it. We conclude with recommendations for how to fix the adoption process and the substance of Connecticut’s social studies instruction, by substantive revision of the Standards.

Connecticut’s citizens and policymakers can only secure accurate, professional social studies standards if they fix the adoption process and the substance of Connecticut’s social studies instruction. Connecticut should model new standards on American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards, adopted to fit Connecticut. New statutes also should include increased public review and comment in the standards’ adoption process, and increased power for the public and elected officials to veto the CSDE bureaucracy.

The Connecticut State Department of Education’s Standards possess many of the grave shortcomings of the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) Social Studies Standards (2023), which the Civics Alliance critiqued in Taken For a RIDE: How Rhode Island’s Social Studies Standards Shortchange Students. Connecticut and Rhode Island’s bureaucrats are part of the national movement by far-left educators to subordinate every state’s K-12 social studies instruction to radical activism. Americans around the country should look at how Connecticut’s and Rhode Island’s Departments of Education have degraded social studies instruction, to know what their own Departments of Education may soon attempt to do.

“Connecticut’s citizens deserve excellent social studies standards,” Randall added. “Connecticut citizens and policymakers should work at once to make all the statutory and administrative changes necessary to make sure that CSDE crafts proper social studies standards for their children—standards that educate Connecticut’s children to know and to love their birthright of liberty.”

Photo by Wangkun Jia on Adobe Stock

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