Woodland Park, Primary Sources, and the Battle of Rhode Island

David Randall

Resolute is the Civics Alliance’s newsletter, informing you about the most urgent issues in civics education. Above all, Resolute will provide information about federal and state legislation that seeks to impose action civics, or to preserve traditional civics.

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2023 is beginning to explode with action! The Woodland Park School District in Colorado has become the first school district in the nation to adopt American Birthright. The Civics Alliance added a Primary Source Appendix to American Birthright. Virginia released a solid revision of its draft social studies standards. And a great deal more news … read all about it!

Woodland Park School District in Colorado Adopts American Birthright

The Woodland Park School District in Colorado has become the first school district in the nation to adopt American Birthright, the Civics Alliance's model social studies standards. CPR News reports:

The board of a small school district in Teller County passed a resolution Wednesday night to use the conservative American Birthright social studies standards that emphasize patriotism and American exceptionalism, just a month after the state board of education rejected them.

Colorado’s school districts possess an unusual amount of authority to set standards—but Woodland Park has just become a model not only for other school districts in Colorado but also for school districts around the nation. States can adopt American Birthright—and so can school districts. Woodland Park is showing the way.

Of course, this means the Civics Alliance has new tasks. Standards aren’t a curriculum, and we want to help Woodland Park devise a curriculum that fits the American Birthright standards. Woodland Park also has to satisfy state requirements, and we want to make sure that American Birthright doesn’t prevent them from doing that. Then, Woodland Park will modify American Birthright however it sees fit, to meet its own needs! That’s what we want—American Birthright to be a model, not a straightjacket.

We also expect there will be counter-attacks on American Birthright. The education establishment, and allied Woke activists, want to crush any educational model that doesn’t forward their propaganda. We will be working to support Woodland Park in the court of public opinion.

But for now, we are simply delighted with this wonderful news from Woodland Park School District. It’s very nice to get their endorsement.

American Birthright: Primary Source Appendix

The Civics Alliance has just added a new section to American Birthright: the Primary Source Appendix.

American Birthright teaches students to identify the ideals, institutions, and individual examples of human liberty, individualism, religious freedom, and republican self-government; assess the extent to which civilizations have fulfilled these ideals; and describe how the evolution of these ideals in different times and places has contributed to the formation of modern America.

American Birthright’s K-12 Standards mention a large number of primary sources and other books. The vast majority are the primary sources we recommend for Grades 8 to 12. We also list Further Readings in the Introduction, as well as a series for different grade bands of Additional Readings drawn from the Civics Literacy Reading List in Florida’s B.E.S.T. Standards: English Language Arts.

Our Primary Source Appendix makes all our sources easily available for teachers, students, parents, and education administrators.

Above all, the Civics Alliance wants to make our sources accessible to anyone who seeks to create a primary sources reader to accompany American Birthright. We therefore provide bibliographic information for all these works, including information about how to access them online and in print.

For Grades 8 to 11, we list the primary sources in the order in which they appear in American Birthright. In Grade 12, Civics, we repeated the primary sources we recommended for different purposes, so it made more sense to list the primary sources for that year in chronological order. We list the Further Readings and the Additional Readings in alphabetical order by author’s last name.

We generally provide full versions of the texts, rather than selected readings. Some online sources only provide extracts—and, indeed, so do a few print sources. We have tried, however, to give teachers the freedom to choose readings they prefer from the original sources, rather than to make their choices for them.

We hope this Primary Source Appendix will make American Birthright more useful for every reader. Above all, we want every state, teacher, and parent to be able to use American Birthright, easily and at once, to give America’s children a proper education in liberty.

Open Letters: South Dakota and Virginia

The Civics Alliance and the National Association of Scholars have just sent open letters commenting on the latest draft social studies standards in South Dakota and Virginia. We are enthusiastic about both states’ new drafts, which are wonderful improvements on the initial drafts produced by their permanent education department bureaucracies. We also have suggestions for long-term reform for both—for example, to restore discrete instruction in Western Civilization—but these are suggestions to build upon these successes.

Both South Dakota and Virginia face strong counter-attacks by the education establishment and their allies. We urge South Dakotans and Virginians to go to public comment sessions, to write in favor of the standards, to do everything they can to convince their fellow citizens that the new draft social studies standards are good—and to let the reform policymakers who have spearheaded these new standards know that they have your support, and that they should stand firm in the standards’ defense.

Texas Initiative: Air Gap Devices

The Civic Alliance’s Texas affiliate, in conjunction with Act In Action, is working to have Texas school districts replace school-issued computers with wireless access to the internet with “air gap devices”—electronic devices with no internet wireless capability. They are taking this initiative partly to prevent school districts and associated providers from “data mining” school children, and partly to ensure that parents have the ability to know precisely what curriculum is being assigned to their children via electronic devices. Civics Alliance members interested in this issue, in Texas and elsewhere, should contact Mark Goloby, president of the Civics Alliance Texas state affiliate.

Kansas Initiative: School Board Training

The Kansas Policy Institute has established a subsidiary, the Kansas School Board Resource Center (KSBRC). The KSBRC will be providing model school board policies—and, even more importantly, training for school board members about how to exercise their powers. This is very important, because standard school board trainings generally tell school board members to let the permanent bureaucracy handle curriculum. Proper training for school board members is essential for civics reform. We urge anyone interested in school board trainings, whether in Kansas or elsewhere, to get in touch with the KSBRC. Anyone interested in setting up a parallel initiative entirely should get in touch with Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute.

Mississippi: Social Studies Standards Still Need Improvement

Mississippi, alas, has formally adopted its new social studies standards. The Civics Alliance and the National Association of Scholars sent an open letter in October suggesting improvements—which Mississippi’s Department of Education ignored. Mississippi’s standards are not as bad as Minnesota’s draft standards, or Rhode Island’s accepted standards—but they could be improved substantially. It is worth noting that Mississippi is a “deep red” state—and their education bureaucracy still produces standards that have “woke” elements, even if they are not entirely woke, and whose basic approach will deform social studies instruction with liberal political presumptions. Civics Alliance members in Mississippi will need to build support for better social studies standards, whether by legislative intervention or by reforming the social studies adoption process for the next standards.

Fortunately, there is now a Civics Alliance affiliate in Mississippi!

Civics Alliance State Affiliates—Welcome to Mississippi!

The Civics Alliance is building a network of state affiliates—groups dedicated to removing action civics in their state—whom we will list on our website. We now have a new Mississippi state affiliate—we are delighted to welcome Leslie Lee, the new head of the Mississippi affiliate. We now have nine affiliates, in Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas. If you would like to form such an organization, or suggest an existing organization with whom we may partner, please get in touch with Civics Alliance Executive Director David Randall ([email protected]).

Rhode Island Social Studies Standards: A New Battle

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) issued draft social studies standards on December 7—and the comment period ended on December 19. Of course, RIDE didn’t want the public to have time to comment on the standards, because they are very woke. And RIDE already had gotten the comment they wanted in advance, from the woke coalition:

Participants providing input were encouraged to do so via a survey that RIDE developed. This process included proactively reaching out to individuals, organizations, associations, and groups representative of Rhode Island’s ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and identity-based communities. This process was purposeful and included historically silenced or erased communities. In addition, the intent was to develop an active feedback process that engaged communities rather than a more traditional and passive approach to soliciting feedback.

RIDE rigged the public comment process for social studies standards and calls it principle.

We will be writing a long critique of these standards, in cooperation with the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Our comments will include:

  • Rigged public comment process to preclude real public comment.
  • Bloated, jargon-filled prose, unreadable by Rhode Island citizens.
  • So unclear that the standards are not usable for curriculum creation, professional development, or textbook creation.
  • Pervasive political skew, exemplified by cut-and-paste invocations of the identity politics coalition and selective use of the cynical phrase and who benefits to delegitimize American history and ideals.
  • Pervasive absence of the institutions and ideals of history.
  • Fifth- and sixth-grade standards made unteachably difficult so as to import sophisticated cynicism into a basic course.
  • Applying the analysis of power dynamics, with implicitly revolutionary consequences, to the family.

Rhode Islanders need to be informed, so that they can begin to rally against the political and bureaucratic machine that imposed these draft standards. Americans need to be informed, to prevent the Rhode Island process from being imposed on them.

News in Brief

  • The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal has published a “Blueprint for Reform: Civics Education,”focused upon higher education. Among their recommendations: “Rewrite general education requirements to include a 3-credit course or its equivalent on American Institutions and Ideals, which requires the reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in their entirety, and at least three additional original works.”
  • Civics Alliance Executive Director was interviewed for “Conversations Episode 111: Civics in Schools,” in Conversations with Bob Denton, on Blue Ridge PBS.

Monthly American Birthright Zoom Meeting

The Civics Alliance will have its monthly Zoom session devoted to social studies standards reform on Monday, Februry 6, at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. Please email [email protected] if you would like to join these monthly Zoom meetings.

Social Studies Standards Revision Schedule

2023/Current: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky (partial), Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming

2024: Alabama, Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin

2025: Kentucky, Texas

2026: Colorado, Maryland, North Dakota, South Carolina

2027: Hawaii, Kansas

2029: Louisiana

2031: Illinois

No Revision Currently Scheduled: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri (but could change), New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington

Waiting Confirmation: District of Columbia (current process), North Carolina (2021)

Please email David Randall ([email protected]) if you are interested in further information about your state’s social studies revision process, and what you can do to participate.

Continuing Priorities: Federal Legislation

At the federal level, the Civics Secures Democracy Act threatens to impose action civics nationwide.

The Civics Bill Tracker

Civics Alliance members may now use the Civics Bill Tracker to track all proposed federal and state legislation related to civics.

Public Action

We encourage Civics Alliance members to inform the public and policymakers about the stakes and consequences of action civics bills.

David Randall is Executive Director of the Civics Alliance and Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars.

Image: Dimitar Donovski, Public Domain

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