Rhode Island’s Social Studies Standards Fail Students, Report Finds

The Civics Alliance

New York, NY; February 2, 2023 – The Civics Alliance and the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity have just released Taken For a RIDE: How Rhode Island’s Social Studies Standards Shortchange Students. This report provides a detailed critique of Rhode Island’s Social Studies Standards (2023) (hereafter, Standards), which fail to achieve the fundamental goal of American social studies education.

Taken For a RIDE has been released jointly by the Civics Alliance, a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to improving America’s civics education, and the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity (RICFP), which provides Rhode Island’s citizens, media, and public officials with empirical research data, while also advancing market-based solutions to major public policy issues in the state.

“The Standards do not teach Rhode Island’s children what freedom is,” said David Randall, report author and Executive Director of the Civics Alliance. “Nor do 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, republican institutions, and limitation of the scope of government preserve our freedom, nor what they need to do to preserve their country’s liberty.”

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), 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.

“The Standards is neither by the people of Rhode Island, nor of the people of Rhode Island,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the RICFP. “Nevertheless, it will be imposed on the people of Rhode Island.”

Rhode Island’s government recently passed several laws that give the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) the power to impose academic standards without the consultation of elected officials. Rhode Island’s citizenry has no means to curb the worst instincts of its education bureaucrats. The State’s misguided process for adopting academic standards greenlighted RIDE personnel’s radical enthusiasms.

This report outlines both how RIDE produced these Standards and the substantive result. The Standards were produced by undemocratic means, drafted in an unreadable format, suffused in radical jargon, and teach a tattered caricature of history and civics, which will produce students who are taught not to be patriotic about their country rather than self-reliant citizens who love it.

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

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

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Contact: David Randall, Executive Director, Civics Alliance, [email protected].

Read the Report Read the Executive Summary


Photo by Taylor Flowe on Unsplash

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