Americans’ birthright is freedom. We teach our children social studies, above all history and civics, so they can know what freedom is, where America’s ideas of freedom come from in the long history of Western civilization, how our ancestors achieved their freedom, how our laws, republican institutions, and limitation of the scope of government preserve our freedom, and what they need to do to preserve their country’s liberty. We also teach our children social studies so they can learn why their country deserves to be loved, and to learn what we owe to our ancestors—the heroes of the American past who deserve our gratitude because they created a free and prosperous country and bequeathed it to us, their posterity. We teach our children social studies so they can learn to understand the enduring character of the American nation and to love the customs that should define and unite us as a people.
Our children should learn who we Americans are—and then they should be taught about the nations, the faiths, and the history of the world. They should also learn America’s common language of liberty, patriotism, and national memory. We must instruct our children so they may become worthy of their ancestors by becoming full members of the American republic and the American nation, self-reliant citizens who respect the dignity and the rights of their fellow Americans, who love their country, and who cherish our liberties and our laws. Love, liberty, and the law—these are the touchstones of American social studies instruction.1
Rhode Island’s Social Studies Standards (2023) (hereafter, Standards) fail entirely to achieve these fundamental goals.2 These Standards were produced by misguided legislation and a secretive bureaucratic process, and they have produced a document that is bloated, vague, riddled with errors, distortions, and absences, and animated throughout 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 love America for its liberty; the Standards teach them to hate America because it has not yet achieved the ideological nightmare of equity.
Rhode Island will suffer many different ways from these vituperative Standards. Of course they will have an immediate and harmful effect on classroom social studies instruction, by forcing 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, Rhode Island will suffer most because its children will have been educated to hate their country. But the Standards will be quite effective in the short run in degrading every aspect of Rhode Island’s K-12 social studies instruction.
The Standards will be so destructive in good measure because Rhode Island’s government recently passed several laws that give the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) the power to impose academic standards, with no possibility of check by elected officials or of opt-out by local school districts.3 Rhode Island’s citizenry has no means to curb the worst instincts of its education bureaucrats. Rhode Island’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 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 Rhode Island’s social studies instruction, by means of statutory reform and substantive revision of the Standards.
Adoption: Unaccountable and Politicized Procedures
RIDE used unaccountable and politicized procedures to create the Standards, which allowed its personnel and a coalition of radical activist organizations to impose their skewed priorities These procedures built upon statutory directives to “Be open and consultative” and to “Include, but need not be limited to, a culturally and racially diverse group of classroom teachers and students”—but no statutory requirements were made for public comment or legislative review.4 RIDE used this statutory mandate to join with radical activists to create the Standards:
Starting in late summer of 2020, the RIHSSAC developed an interactive process to engage diverse communities throughout Rhode Island to provide input on the skills, content, and equity focus for the new standards, and to offer feedback on other content for inclusion in the curriculum frameworks. 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. … Drafts of the RI Social Studies Standards have been shared with a range of stakeholder groups across Rhode Island to solicit their input. These have included the RIHSSAC, educator groups, community groups, and student groups. (p. 3)
In other words, an unaccountable cabal of radical activists and bureaucrats created the Standards.
RIDE provided the sole opportunity for public comment via the Commissioner’s Weekly Field Memo of December 7, which stated that “The draft Social Studies Standards will be open for input through December 19.”5 Open for input was a carefully crafted phrase, which did not commit RIDE to make any changes suggested by the public. RIDE could ignore whatever public comment that could be drafted within 12 days.
Neither the Rhode Island public nor Rhode Island policymakers have had any chance to contribute to drafting the Standards, any realistic opportunity to comment on them, or any power to halt the drafting and submission process. The Standards is neither by the people of Rhode Island, nor of the people of Rhode Island—but it nevertheless will be imposed on the people of Rhode Island.
Format: Confusing and Repetitive
RIDE has given the Standards a format that renders the content virtually incomprehensible.
- RIDE buries the factual content for every individual instructional unit in the Standards within an impenetrable labyrinth of Anchor Standards, Topics of Inquiry, Compelling Questions, Inquiry Tables, Inquiry Strands, Connections to the Rhode Island Standards, and Content Standards (pp. 10-11).
- Within this labyrinth, it is difficult to locate the Content Standards, which contain the vast majority of the Standards’ actual factual content.
- The Inquiry Tables cross-reference to the Anchor Standards via acronyms that convey no meaning (e.g., G.ST, H.IG 1, H.CC 1-2).
- The questions in the Inquiry Strands frequently repeat the materials in the Content Standards.
- The Inquiry Tables include empty boxes throughout for Teacher Notes, Instructional Ideas, and Assessment Ideas, which reduce the Standards’ clarity further in the peculiar belief that teachers will actually use these cramped text boxes to take notes.
- The Standards, bloated by unnecessary, repetitive, and unintelligible material, has ballooned to 453 pages.
Teachers will have difficulty comprehending the Standards. So too will providers of textbooks and professional development courses, as well as administrators and teachers trying to judge whether a textbook or a professional development course actually meets the standards. Parents and policymakers, who should be able to hold teachers accountable for teaching according to the Standards, will find them virtually impossible to understand. The Standards completely fails to meet the statutory requirement that academic standards should “Be in a form readily comprehensible by the general public.”6 It therefore also will fail to provide proper guidance, as statutorily required, for curriculum frameworks and high-quality curriculum and materials.7
Prose Style: Vague Jargon, Filled With Mistakes
The Standards uses vague, pedantic prose throughout rather than plain English. (The Standards also use radical jargon throughout, but we will address that below, in our analysis of the Standards’ content.) Some Content Standards have been so loosely written that they are meaningless; e.g., “Influence of geography on where people [Amerindians] settled impacted the social, economic, and political structure of native civilizations.”8 Others use horribly pedantic language; e.g., “Ways that checks and balances are instantiated in the national government and the impact of that instantiation.”9 The combination of impact and instantiated also exemplifies how the Standards’ predilection for academic jargon combines with awkward use of English prose. The Standards use “impact” throughout, when they should use “affect” or “effect.”10
Then too, the Standards contain bizarrely worded questions such as, “How did the relationship between Great Britain and the Indian subcontinent become contentious?”11—which must be meant to be a query about the fall of the British Raj, but for which a straightforward answer would be, the British conquered India and the Indians never were thrilled about that. The Standards include far too much material where teachers, textbook writers, and professional developers will have to struggle to determine precisely what the Standards mean.
The Standards also contains typographical errors,12 missing words,13 duplicated words,14 incorrect words,15 missing content standard numeration,16 erroneous content standard numeration,17 ungrammatical sentences,18 and incoherent phrases.19 The Standards requires another round of careful proofreading and copyediting, not least because the remaining errors too frequently make the text incomprehensible. These errors appear to be the by-product of RIDE’s politicized and secretive standards adoption procedures, which allowed no public comment—as well of an education system so rotted that even RIDE personnel have lost the ability to write correct English.
The authors of the Standards reduce confidence in their command of subject matter when they demonstrate shaky command of the English language. The Standards’ prose style also reduces accountability to parents and policymakers, since it renders the Standards obscure to anyone who has not gone to an education school.
Pedagogy: Misguided Approach
The Standards emphasizes “skills” rather than factual content.20 This emphasis not only renders the Standards bulky and unreadable but also will steer teachers and school districts to waste scarce classroom hours teaching mandated skills rather than factual content.
The Standards echoes the latest fashion in education schools, “inquiry-based learning” (pp. 4, 10-11), and phrases much of its content as questions rather than answers. This format renders the Standards even more bulky and unreadable, adds Inquiry Strands that duplicate the Content Standards,21 provides no help for teachers, textbook authors, and providers of professional development materials who don’t actually know the content the questions allude to,22 and facilitates an unfortunate tendency to include tendentious “questions” that imply answers that fit radical polemic.23
The Standards provides no writing expectations at all; none of the Skills and Inquiry it prescribes include the ability to write.24 Social studies instruction should include writing expectations that build toward students capable by graduation from high school of writing an intellectually and stylistically sophisticated 10-page history paper, which demonstrates that they are prepared for an undergraduate history course.25 The Standards would allow Rhode Island high schools to graduate students who cannot write a paragraph on a social studies topic.
Content: Propaganda to Create Ignorant, Radical Activists
The Standards ought to aim first and last at educating students. Its authors have subordinated social studies education throughout the document to the desire to catechize students in radical identity-politics ideology (sometimes referred to as Critical Race Theory) and to give vocational training in progressive activism (sometimes referred to as “action civics”). We cannot convey how pervasively RIDE has politicized these Standards without quoting the document verbatim. Our critique of the Standards content focuses on these areas:
- Structural Absences: RIDE’s commitment to political activism has created Standards which waste scarce classroom time on propaganda and abandon large portions of core social studies instruction.
- Mistakes: The Standards include substantial material that is simply mistaken. The hasty and politicized standards adoption procedures have produced a document that cannot be relied upon to provide elementary facts.
- Politicized Anchor Standards: The Anchor Standards govern the Standards’ content as a whole. Their politicization shows the guidelines that shaped the rest of the document.
- Politicized Content: The Standards’ content has been politicized throughout, both by the radical jargon it uses and the content it teaches.
- Action Civics: RIDE’s commitment to action civics transforms social studies education into vocational training in progressive activism—“community organization” of K-12 students.
We start with what the Standards fail to teach. Rhode Island citizens should know what the ideologues in RIDE have taken away from their children, before they learn how these ideologues have politicized what social studies instruction remains.
The Standards include a great deal of content that is politicized, incorrect, useless, or all at once. But just as bad as what is taught is what is missing—the essential social studies content that has been eliminated to make room for radical propaganda. Rhode Island students will suffer as much from what they have not been taught as from what they have.
Of course no social studies standards can or should attempt to include every topic. There are limited hours of social studies instruction. We will confine our catalogue of absences in the Standards to broad categories, to outline what RIDE has sacrificed in its pursuit of woke ideology.
K-3 Patriotic Content: The Standards radically truncates content that teaches K-3 students to love America and know its symbols, its traditions, and its history. The Standards neither reinforces nor builds upon the brief Kindergarten instruction in America’s national symbols—and that instruction does not include the national anthem.26 Kindergarten (Living and Working Together in Schools, Families, And Neighborhoods) and Grade 1 (Living and Working Together in Local Communities) concentrate upon the local level, while Grade 2 bypasses the nation for a “global” focus (Living and Working Together in Global Communities). Grade 3 (Living and Working Together in the Regions of the United States) does finally provide a survey of America’s regions—but even here the Standards provide no instruction in America’s stories and heroes. The K-6 standards provide extensive coverage of traditions, celebrations and stories for community history, families outside the United States, communities being looked at, various immigrant populations within the communities, historical events and key people who brought resistance and change to the society, across communities, enslaved and free Blacks, and stories of escape27—but never American traditions, celebrations, and stories.28
Economics: The Standards provides no Economics standards, although Economics, along with Civics, Geography, and History, is one its four core domains. Different states frame economics instruction as a required course, an elective course, or instruction to be integrated in other courses—but the Standards provide nothing.29
Geography: The Standards’ Grade 7 World History survey (Ancient to Medieval World History: Early Man to 1300 CE) provides no basic instruction in world geography. This instruction, rather, is delayed to the high school world history—when, since Rhode Island only requires three years of high school social studies instruction, there is no guarantee it will be taught.30
United States History: The high school United States History (USH) sequence greatly minimizes the histories of America’s liberty, faith, culture, technology, and prosperity.
Liberty: USH mentions “the conditions under which enslaved people lived and struggled for freedom” and asks, “How did civil rights activists use non-violent civil disobedience in their struggle for freedom?”,31 but it provides no content or query about Americans’ daily exercise of liberty, from colonial America to the present.
Faith: USH rarely mentions America’s history of faith; it does not mention Puritans, the First Great Awakening, Indian Christianity, Mormonism, evangelical revival, foreign missions, the Social Gospel, the Catholic Workers Movement, or African American Christianity (whether slave preachers, gospel music, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Azusa Street Revival, or the role of religion in the Civil Rights movement).
Culture: USH mentions the 1920s cultural revolution, the Harlem Renaissance, the cultural effects of the Cold War, and Beat Generation “oppositional culture.”32 It mentions no other aspect of America’s common culture, from Washington Irving to Georgia O’Keeffe to Elvis Presley, not Tin Pan Alley, amusement parks, Broadway musicals, Hollywood movies, or television.33
Technology: USH refers in the vaguest terms to technology in antebellum America and inventions in Gilded Age America, as well as to the internet; it makes no other references to America’s history of technology.34 Absences include the lightning rod, the cotton gin, steamboats, the telegraph, electric light, the assembly line, combine harvesters, the airplane, radio, television, atomic energy, computers, rockets, and lasers.35
Prosperity: USH’s extensive references to American economic history only mention affluence once, in reference to America in the generation after World War II.36 Absences include the entire history of America’s extraordinarily widespread prosperity, the myriad small enterprises that fueled America’s Main Streets, and the entrepreneurial and administrative flair that created General Motors and IBM and made America the Arsenal of Democracy during World War II.
USH minimizes or erases virtually all of America’s signal accomplishments, along with America’s spirit.
World History: The high school World History sequence substitutes World History for dedicated instruction in the history of Western Civilization. The Standards therefore cannot provide a coherent presentation of Western Civilization’s ideals and institutions of liberty, which Rhode Island students need if they are to understand the philosophical sources and political background for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The disjointed and vague World History sequence wanders from historical theme to historical theme, provides no coherent historical narrative, and leaves extraordinarily large gaps in what it does cover.
Western Civilization Absences: Ancient Israel and the Hebrew Bible; Phoenicia and Carthage; the Persian Wars, Greek liberty, and Greek democracy; the existence and the fall of the Roman Republic;37 Jesus of Nazareth; the Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire; intellectual interchange between the Islamic world and the Latin West; serfs, manors, monks, or any details of Europe’s medieval politics, technological advances, or culture; Charlemagne; the history of medieval England; the Spanish reconquista; any mention of Russia before the Russian Revolution; England’s common law and Parliament; Renaissance ideals of individualism, liberty, and tolerance; Christian anti-slavery champions such as Bartolomé de las Casas and William Wilberforce; European intellectual or cultural history after the Enlightenment; the world-transforming increase in life expectancy and living standards that resulted from the Industrial Revolution; and nineteenth-century European political history.
World History Absences: The Muslim conquest of India; Islamic slavery of Slavs and Africans; the expansion of Buddhism to Southeast Asia and East Asia; China’s Ming Dynasty; Portuguese trade and empire in Asia; the history of Latin America after the Spanish Conquest; the African slaver kingdoms of West Africa; Tokugawa Japan; the Middle East between the rise of the Ottoman Empire and decolonization; the collapse of the Qing Empire, Nationalist China, and the Sino-Japanese War; and the British Raj.
The Standards’ remaining historical coverage often is extremely vague; e.g., “Relationships between social classes [in ancient China], impact on society, and who benefitted”, or “Examples of long-term impact of the Roman empire”.38
We repeat that we do not expect social studies standards to mention every topic. Yet the Standards found room to include the following items just in Grade 6:
Third wave feminism and its focus on intersectional feminism (e.g., redefinition of beauty standards, individual empowerment, Anita Hill hearing of 1991, “The Year of the Woman,” punk groups such as Riot Grrrl, Guerrilla Girls).39
Multiple Latinx organizations and events surrounding worker’s rights (e.g., Japanese-Mexican Labor Association (JMLA) 1903, Ludlow Massacre 1914, El Monte Strike 1933, Bracero Program 1942, United Farm Workers 1965, Delano Grape Boycott, Agricultural Labor Relations Act 1975).40
Impact of Indian Boarding Schools on Indigenous communities (e.g., cultural repression, erasure of Two Spirits, Carlisle Indian Boarding School, Sherman Institute in California, Indian Child Welfare Act 1978).41
The Standards had room for these detailed catalogues of events in the history of American identity groups, but it had no room for dedicated economics instruction, Greek liberty, the Bible, or Jesus of Nazareth.
Mistakes: Historical Errors
The Standards includes a significant number of outright errors. These include:
Invented Empires: The Standards refer repeatedly to the “Mesopotamian empire”, the “Greek empire”, and the “Islamic empire”, when no such empires ever existed.42 These could refer, respectively, to the Akkadian or Babylonian empires, to the Athenian quasi-empire or the Macedonian empire, or to the Umayyad or Abbasid caliphates—but the language of the Standards suggests ignorance rather than clerical error.
Misplaced and Mistimed Empires: The Standards place the Persian and Macedonian empires under Topic 8: Western Europe (p. 414), and they ask about events in the Persian empire between 700 AD and 1200 AD.43 Neither Persia nor Macedonia is in Western Europe, this topic appears to have been misplaced from Topic 3: Ancient Greece and Rome (p. 384), and this topic probably refers to the Achaemenid Persian empire that ceased to exist in 330 BC. There was no independent Persian state between the seventh-century Muslim conquest of the Sassanid empire and the sixteenth-century re-establishment of Persia in the Safavid empire.44 The Standards also place the Byzantine empire within Western Europe.45
Confusion of Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny: The Standards appear to confuse the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny.46 It is possible that this is a politicization rather than an error, but the words given indicate simple ignorance: “Influence of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny on causing the United States to create measures that would prevent European involvement in the United States and colonization in the Western Hemisphere.”
Duplication and Misdating of the Bolshevik Revolution: The Standards duplicate the Bolshevik Revolution and suggest that it happened before World War One: “Relationship between WWI and the Russian Revolution including revolutions prior to WW I (e.g., Revolution of 1905, Bolshevik Revolution).”47 The Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 was the culmination of the Russian Revolution that began in February 1917—and took place during World War One.48
Iroquois Influence on the Constitution: The Standards repeat in three different grades the myth that the governing structure of the Iroquois Confederacy had substantial influence on the making of the Constitution—and in a fourth grade add what appears to be an error even on their own terms, by adding instruction on the influence of the Iroquois Confederacy on the Declaration of Independence.49 Technically this might count as a politicization, since it reflects a recent identity-politics myth,50 frequently repeated in modern histories, that the Founding Fathers had more than cursory knowledge of the structure of the Iroquois Confederacy, and gave it more than glancing attention. Proper historical discussion of the true sources of American federalist thought, such as the examples of pre-monarchical Israel, the Holy Roman Empire, Switzerland, and the Netherlands—or, indeed, the etymological and conceptual root of federalism in the Latin foedus (covenant, treaty, pact)—easily debunks the fable of significant Iroquois influence. But the consequence for the Standards of teaching this myth is repeated instruction of historical error, in four separate years.
The Standards’ outright historical errors degrade it below the level of minimum professional standards, and will force teachers, textbook writers, and creators of professional development either to teach historical error or, of necessity, simply to ignore the Standards.
Anchor Standards: Politicized Framework
The Standards’ twelve Anchor Standards (pp. 4-9), divided into the four categories of Civics and Government, Economics, Geography, and History, provide the framework for the Standards as a whole. The Standards authors have infused the Anchor Standards with ideological vocabulary and content.
Vocabulary: The Anchor Standards pervasively incorporate extensive radical jargon. We may enumerate the number of times select words and phrases appear in the Anchor Standards:
bias (1), change (agents of, social) (10), critical reflection (1), culturally relevant (1), engage/engaged (2), equitable/equitably (10), excluded (1), identity (4), inequitable (1), intersectional/intersecting identities (12), lived experiences (11), marginalized (3), power (15), privileged (2), resistance (6), solution (2).
The Standards provide no Glossary to define these terms, presumably because precise definitions would reveal the ideological agenda embedded in their use.
Content: The entire Anchor Standards replace academic study with radical ideological catechism and support for activism to promote equally radical political ends. We extract one item from each of the twelve Anchor Standards.
Students will act as informed citizens as they … Argue how power can be distributed and used to create a more equitable society for communities and individuals based on their intersectional identities and lived experiences. [p. 5; Civics and Government, Power, #4]
Students will act as informed citizens as they … Analyze how rules and laws positively and/or negatively impact different individuals and communities based on their intersectional identities and lived experiences. [p. 5; Civics and Government, Rules and Law, #3]
Students will act as informed citizens as they … Argue for a possible solution to make rights equitable and the roles of those involved in pursuing that solution. [p. 5; Civics and Government, Rights and Responsibilities, #4]
Students act as historians as they … Analyze multiple sources to compare and contrast historical events through the lenses of identity, power, and resistance. [p. 6; History, Change/Continuity, #3]
Students act as historians as they … Analyze multiple types of sources, including art, music, oral histories, pamphlets, film, texts, etc., through a critical reflection of the creators’ and students’ intersectional identities and lived experiences. [p. 6; History, Historical Perspectives, #3]
Students act as historians as they … Argue how all individuals can act as local, national, and/or global agents of social change by using lessons learned from history. [p. 6; History, Individuals/Groups, #4]
Students act as geographers as they … Argue how decisions about resources and the environment made by individuals and/or communities impact current and future peoples differently and how those decisions might be made more equitable. [p. 7; Geography, Human, Physical, and Environmental Interactions, #4]
Students act as geographers as they … Argue how the relationship between populations and physical systems influence decision-making about the equitable access to resources and land at the local, regional, and/or global levels. [p. 7; Geography, Human Systems and Populations, #4]
Students act as geographers as they … Argue how the systematic analysis of the spatial patterns provides an integral understanding of a place or region and supports equitable decisions about climate and land use. [p. 8; Geography, The World in Spatial Terms, #4]
Students act as economists as they … Argue how a resource can be used differently to create a more equitable outcome for individuals and communities including how individuals and communities can influence systems of power to achieve that change. [p. 9; Economics, Scarcity/Abundance, #4]
Students act as economists as they … Analyze how individuals and communities acting through intersectional identities and lived experiences can affect the means of production. [p. 9; Economics, Producers/Consumers, #3]
Students act as economists as they … Explain how those traditionally privileged and marginalized across intersecting identities can influence and interact with economic systems. [p. 9; Economics, Economics/Government, #2]
We have extracted only twelve such items, but the large majority of the Anchor Standards items have been similarly politicized. We cannot emphasize strongly enough that these Anchor Standards:
- pervasively presuppose radical ideological belief;
- promote political action predicated on these beliefs; and
- abandon the ideal that social studies instruction should provide unpoliticized instruction, suited for the pluralist beliefs of Rhode Island’s free citizenry, which provides students the material with which to make their own historical and political judgments.
The Anchor Standards’ politicization renders the entire Standards into a machine for ideological indoctrination, rather than for social studies education.51
Power: The Standards have crafted an entire Anchor Standard, under Civics and Government, as “Power.” Partly this section condenses Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals (1971), the “community organization” handbook that radicals use to guide them in how to seize power, and relabels it as an education in Civics and Government. Partly “Power” channels the theoretical beliefs of Michel Foucault52 and his followers, which reduce all ideals and all knowledge to power relations. RIDE’s invocation of “Power” means not only that the Standards—reductively, ahistorically, and inhumanely—teach all civic and historical ideals as exercises in power but also that the Standards’ authors view social studies instruction itself as an exercise in power, for Alinskyite ends.
Statutorily Unwarranted: The Standards claims that the Anchor Standards were written to satisfy Rhode Island’s statutory requirement that academic standards and curriculum frameworks “instill respect for the cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity of this state, and for the contributions made by diverse cultural, ethnic, and racial groups to the life of this state”, and “be designed to avoid perpetuating gender, cultural, ethnic, or racial stereotypes” (p. 4).53 NAS and the Civics Alliance oppose such laws not least because they allow education administrators to act precisely as RIDE has done, and to replace social studies education with political indoctrination. Yet Rhode Island’s law does not require the Anchor Standards’ radical content. To “instill respect for the cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity of this state” does not (for example) require social studies teachers to instruct students how to “Analyze how individuals and communities acting through intersectional identities and lived experiences can affect the means of production.” RIDE possesses neither statutory warrant nor excuse for this radical politicization of the Anchor Standards—or for its radical politicization of the Standards as a whole.
The Standards have been politicized throughout, to use radical jargon, to provide disproportionate and slanted coverage of material that supports a radical identity politics ideology (sometimes referred to as Critical Race Theory), and to foist “action civics”—vocational training in progressive activism—on Rhode Island students. The largest forms of politicization include the following categories.
Jargon: The Standards rely heavily on radical jargon. A word count of select terms gives a sense of how pervasively the Standards invokes such language.54
|Word||Number of Times|
|Advocate, advocates, advocacy||9|
|And who benefits/benefited/benefitted||149|
|Climate change (changes, changes)||5|
|Global citizen, global citizenship||12|
|Intersection, Intersectional, intersectionality||22|
|Migrate, migrated, migration, migrations, migrants||49|
|Resist, resisted, resistance||34|
The most intensive use of jargon consists of euphemisms for members of the identity politics coalition: enslaved, Black (capitalized), Latinx, Indigenous peoples, LGBTQIA+, etc. The Standards also invoke a remarkably broad spread of additional jargon, even where they do not repeat it frequently. Examples of such jargon, which begin in the Kindergarten standards, include:
domestic containment,55 heterosexual couple families,56 historically marginalized people,57 inequitable hierarchies,58 intergenerational trauma,59 intersectional feminism,60 oppositional culture,61 people who are unhoused,62 positionality,63 power dynamics,64 sexual identity,65 social construction of race,66 systems of privilege,67 and Two Spirits.68
This jargon is nowhere defined—and the radicalism of terms such as settler colonialism explains why RIDE has not explained what precisely this vocabulary means.69 But we should emphasize just how recent are terms such as LGBTQIA+ and Latinx, both of which had barely been coined a decade ago.70 The Standards’ heavy use of evanescent, politically charged jargon suggests that the authors were more interested in forcing teachers and students to use radical vocabulary than they were in teaching social studies.
The Standards invokes such jargon in ways that can be peculiarly selective. The Standards apply the redundant phrase lived experiences to Amerindians, Africans, inhabitants of ancient Eurasian empires, late nineteenth century American immigrants, and African Americans.71 The phrase’s implication would seem to be “learn particular groups’ beliefs and don’t subject them to historical standards of evidence and proof”—but it is difficult to understand how precisely students are supposed to discern the lived experiences of Olmecs or Neo-Assyrians.
The Standards likewise frequently invokes resist or resistance—usually to refer positively to actions by Africans,72 African Americans,73 Asian Americans,74 or Amerindians,75 although occasionally to refer generically to changes progressives endorse76 or negatively to opposition to such reforms.77 The use of resist or resistance generally substitutes approbation for historical analysis, and quietly eliminates consideration of alternatives such as cooperation, accommodation, acquiescence, or surrender—alternatives which characterize individuals’ choices in history as much as resistance.
The Standards’ resort to jargon also results in several bizarre circumlocutions. So the Standards asks, “What roles did Indigenous people play in the French and Indian War?”,78 when the question would hardly need to be asked if the Standards used Indian instead of Indigenous people. The Standards, intent on using enslaved persons rather than slaves, then comes up with phrase formerly enslaved persons; manumitted slaves or freedmen would make sense, and the last term would make for a more straightforward sentence than “Role of the Freedmen's Bureau and the Rhode Island Association for Freedmen in supporting formerly enslaved persons during Reconstruction.”79 Gender politics would seem to underpin the wording of “Characteristics of a Caliph and their role in government”,80 which, aside from grammatical error, misteaches history, since there never has been a female caliph, and Islamic belief held and holds that the caliph must be male. The Standards confuse when they use Haudenosaunee81 in one instance but Iroquois everywhere else, and Vedic system of hierarchy 82 once and caste elsewhere.83
Identity Politics Distortions: The Standards repeatedly engages in identity-politics distortion of social studies instruction by asking about the role of women, minorities, and/or children in Topic X. This repeated query, never phrased to ask about the role of whites or men, is prima facie evidence of race and sex discrimination by RIDE’s authors, distorts history where white men played the leading roles, and reduces historical inquiry to study of identity-politics categories such as race and sex.
But the repeated phrase is more than bigoted—its repetition is disturbing by the fanatical devotion to identity-politics ideology that it reveals. (See Appendix 1: Identity Politics Catechism.)
In what ways did Indigenous people, free Blacks, enslaved peoples, and women participate in the war? 84
Roles diverse individuals played in the Civil War (e.g., free Blacks and enslaved Africans, women, children, LGBTQIA+ individuals, Indigenous peoples).85
Strand 1: Relationships between the United States Constitution and women, enslaved people, free Blacks, Indigenous peoples, non-propertied men, and others.86
How did the American Revolution affect the lives of women, enslaved and free African Americans, and Indigenous people? 87
Effects of the Textile Revolution on different groups (e.g., women, enslaved people, children), especially in Rhode Island, and who benefitted.88
The sheer repetitiveness of the language reveals that this emphasis on “diversity” reduces social studies instruction to a monotonous catechism in diversity ideology.
Power, Revolution, and Pervasive Cynicism: The Standards’ Anchor Standards specified that “Students will act as informed students as they … Argue how power can be distributed and used to create a more equitable society for communities and individuals based on their intersectional identities and lived experiences.” (p. 5) To study power is to work for an “equitable” transformation of any venue where power operates. It is very disturbing, therefore, to read that kindergarteners should be taught “How power dynamics work within families”89 and first graders about “Rules and norms of school and the way power is distributed between people at school including the classroom roles such as class helpers.”90 These phrases suggest that the authors of the Standards intend for teachers to instruct students to work for “equitable” transformation of their families and schools.
Elsewhere, reflecting their allegiance to Foucault and Alinsky, the Standards reduce historical and civic study to analysis of power structures,91 or engage in odd power-worship of groups engaged in progressive causes.92 Above all, the Standards teach a pervasive cynicism—to look for self-interest to explain away ideals. This cynicism supports their emphasis on teaching about power, but it also undermines any attempt to teach students that people act for ideals, or that America, in particular, either aimed at or achieved in practice its ideals of liberty, justice, and equality. The Standards do this partly by assuming a vulgar version of the arguments of the historian Charles Beard, which takes the characteristics of the Founders to explain away the ideals of the documents they created.93
The backgrounds (race, gender, occupation, religion, age, location, and view of slavery) of the Declaration of Independence signatories and the effect that their perspectives had on their political views (e.g., Rhode Island’s Stephen Hopkins).94
The backgrounds (race, gender, occupation, religion, age, location, and view of slavery) of the Declaration of Independence signatories and the effect that their perspectives had on their political views.95
Social and economic status of the Founding Fathers and compared to American society.96
The Standards teaches this pervasive cynicism far more by the phrase and who benefitted, which it uses 149 times. (See Appendix 2: And Who Benefitted.) The Standards generally, although not uniformly, applies the phrase to discredit American ideals and institutions.
Perspectives on natural rights and the role of government in the Declaration of Independence and who benefitted.97
Impacts of the Revolutionary War and who benefitted.98
Impact of the Constitution on different groups in American society and who benefitted.99
The Standards also applies the phrase selectively. It asks students to study “Legislative attempts to prevent immigration and who they benefitted”,100 but never inquire into the motives behind legislative attempts to promote immigration. It mentions “Objectives and impacts of the crusades and who benefited”,101 but does not ask who benefitted from the Islamic conquests. It asks students to “understand who benefited and suffered due to European exploration and colonization”,102 but not who benefitted and suffered from (for example) Aztec conquests.103 And then, there is the oddity of discussing “Rationale for and nature of the Second Great Awakening and who benefitted”,104 when every American who found himself Awakened presumably would say that the benefit was eternal salvation.
Fundamentally, the Standards’ pervasive use of and who benefitted short circuits the possibility of intellectual discussion that asks students to discuss ideas rather than to identify who made the arguments. American students ought to be able to discuss such principles as liberty, justice, democracy, and republicanism—to be able to assess for themselves, purely on the level of intellectual argument, the ideals that animate our history and our republic. The Standards use of and who benefits cripples Rhode Island students’ ability to think and betrays the civic mission of Rhode Island’s public schools.
Distorted Discussion of Key American Ideals and Institutions: The Standards abbreviates and distorts its presentation of key American ideals and institutions, notably liberty, freedom, citizenship, and sovereignty.
Liberty: The term liberty scarcely appears in the Standards. Of the 13 times it appears, 4 instances refer to objects or organizations that contain the word in the name (Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell, Liberty Bonds, and Sons and Daughters of Liberty),105 2 refer to Roger Williams’ conception of soul liberty,106 and the remaining 7 refer solely to study of the Declaration of Independence.107 The 7 instances include 3 with phrases that encourage cynical disbelief: who was left out of these ideals?; ways that individuals were left out of the ideas of liberty; and How did the signatories of the document reconcile their definition of liberty while continuing to own enslaved people?108
Freedom: The Standards use the word freedom more frequently, but with peculiar distortions. Of the historical mentions of the concept, 18 out of 23 times refer to African Americans lacking, seeking, or gaining freedom.109 The Standards scarcely hint at the ordinary exercise of freedom in America’s history. The Civics discussion of freedom in Grades 8 and 9,110 moreover, includes economic and social “freedoms” invented by progressives rather than actual freedoms: equity and tolerance,111 labor rights, children’s rights, cultural freedoms, rights to subsistence, education, health care.112 These may be admirable goals, but they are not freedoms, and they are not guaranteed by the Constitution.
Citizenship: The Standards dilute the importance of American citizenship by using citizenship as a loose metaphor for active participation, rather than Americans’ exceptional birthright, and an institution fundamental to our republican order. So the Standards, in addition to discussing citizenship in the proper sense,113 speaks of citizens in the classroom,114 community citizenship,115 and, above all global citizenship,116 which is effectively defined as progressive activism at an international level.117
Sovereignty: The Standards never discusses sovereignty with reference to the United States—or, indeed, discusses the concept of sovereignty within the Western tradition. It mentions the concept four times with reference to Amerindian tribes,118 and once, incorrectly applying the concept to emotional state rather than to actual states, to China: “How were western interests and feelings of superiority imposed on Chinese sovereignty?”119
Selective Examples: The Standards also politicizes by its selective examples. Its list of “Some historical figures who brought change and what they did to bring change throughout the world (e.g., Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Susan B Anthony, Jane Goodall) and the challenges they faced”120 includes no white men. Its list of “Some contemporary individuals and groups who are working on social change in our world” also includes ostentatiously politicized examples: “Greta Thunberg, scientists who work on vaccines, people fighting for immigration rights”.121 Its list of “Recent issues brought before Congress” only includes issues favored by progressives “gun control, abortion rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, immigration [presumably legalization of illegal aliens rather than border security].”122 So too its discussion of “The nature and uses of myth-making (e.g., Pocahontas and John Smith, the “First” Thanksgiving, Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, Squanto)”123 finds no counterpart in a discussion of mythic figures for the identitarian left, such as Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, or Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
A particularly notable example of selective examples is the use of complicity. The Standards twice invoke the word complicit,
Rhode Island’s involvement of the trade in enslaved Africans, who was complicit, and who benefited.124
Rhode Island’s participation in the African slave trade, who was complicit, and who benefited and who did not.125
Of course the use of complicit seems more appropriate for moral accusation than for historical analysis. But such complicity, if evenly applied, would be universal, and would include the Africans who sold their kin as slaves, the Indians (of India) who sold clothing for use in the slave trade, and the Amerindians who acted as slave catchers in North America. This accusation of complicity also is highly selective—and exemplifies how the Standards distorts history by its use of selective examples.
Genocide Education: The Standards’ discussion of genocide merits separate discussion because the Rhode Island legislature mandated that Rhode Island social studies instruction include “genocide education.” Their intent, however, was that this instruction teach Rhode Island students about subjects “including, but not limited to, the Holocaust, Armenia, Cambodia, and Darfur.”126 Yet the Standards have taken this as license to use “genocide education” to calumniate the United States, repeatedly, as a genocidal nation.
How did settler colonialism contribute to Indigenous genocide?127
What is the United States’s own history of genocide?128
Rationales for and examples of genocides in the United States (e.g., Indigenous peoples).129
What is settler colonialism and how is it connected to the genocide of Indigenous peoples?130
Impacts of European disease, genocide, and conflict on American civilizations and their populations.131
It should be emphasized that this calumny is meant to delegitimize the United States—to justify revolutionary activism by creating a nightmarish caricature of our country’s history. It also should be emphasized that the Standards teach sixth graders that their country is genocidal. RIDE has done this under cover of legislative mandate, but the statutory language includes no such provision.
Elementary School: K-12 education should have high expectations and rigorous curriculum throughout. Yet the Standards’ emphasis on identity-politics propaganda leads to inquiry strands in early grades that are more appropriate for high school, or even college.
Rules and norms of school and the way power is distributed between people at school including the classroom roles such as class helpers.132
Rules and norms of school and the way power is distributed between people at school, home, and in public.133
Ways mass migrations of people can affect locations (e.g., depletion of resources or a change in the environment) and other people (e.g., colonialism’s effects on Indigenous peoples) and who benefits.134
Consequences of domestic containment (e.g., rise of suburbs, white flight, redlining, push for a specific American family structure, baby boom, William Levitt towns, GI Bill and exclusion of people of color from accessing its benefits).135
The Standards also include elementary school topics that do not seem age-appropriate. Discussion of homosexuality begins in kindergarten (“families with same sex parents”),136 while the Standards direct that sixth graders be taught “How did settler colonialism contribute to Indigenous genocide?”137 Rhode Island parents should be consulted about whether these are proper topics, respectively, for their five-year-old and eleven-year-old children.
Miscellaneous Distortions: The Standards abound in individual distortions that cannot be categorized easily. The discussion of the Magna Carta fails to mention what it was and why it mattered for Anglo-American liberty, but instead directs teachers to cover “Reaction of the Pope to the Magna Carta and impact of his Bull.”138 Elsewhere, the Standards take the time to provide honorifics for “Master Kong Fuzi or Confucius,” “Siddhartha Gautama or the Buddha,” and “the prophet Muhammad,”139 while it cannot bring itself to name Jesus or Socrates—much less provide an equivalent honorific, such as Jesus Christ. The Standards mandate study of rationales for the First Hundred Days and the Second New Deal, but only of reactions by their opponents, not rationales.140 The Standards also insert publicity for obscure globalizing concepts and organizations, such as electoral integrity141 and the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and for Citizens' Action (ATTAC).142
Tone: Tone cannot be footnoted so easily as error and distortion. But the Standards are marred, above all and in general, by an extraordinary tone of dislike—dislike of Christianity, dislike of whites, dislike of men, dislike, fundamentally, of America and Americans. The tone is as if a colonial power had imposed a curriculum on a subject people, to teach their children to be ashamed of their past and to work wholeheartedly in the destruction of all their forefathers’ works. It is astonishing that such a document, written with such a tone, should receive the imprimatur of a democratically elected government.
“Action Civics”: Misguided Commitment
The Standards subordinates civics education throughout to “action civics,” also known as “protest civics,” which substitutes vocational training in progressive activism for classroom civics education.143 The Standards promote action civics at least 34 separate times in grades 1-8, including by means of a required Grade 8 Civics Project. (See Appendix 3: Action Civics.)
Creating change through service and community actions (e.g., town hall meetings, peaceful protests, and marches).144
Ways people work together to resolve global issues such as climate change, wars, disease.145
Ways that young students can advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights in their communities.146
Opportunities to become involved in issues beyond the United States.147
The Standards also promotes action civics by such means as “What are different types of leaders? (e.g., community organizer, social justice leader, elected officials like the mayor)”.148
Action civics of any sort would short-circuit true civic education, by substituting political activism for disengaged education in American history and government. The Standards’ action civics is politicized as well; it solely teaches students to engage in activism for an array of radical causes.
Results: RIDE’s Social Studies Standards Are Among the Worst in the Nation
The Standards contain some good material. The third-grade standards provide a good introduction to American geography. The Standards also include good coverage of justly famous Rhode Islanders such as Roger Williams, Nathanael Greene, and Samuel Slater. We hesitate to cite more praiseworthy material in detail, because we fear it will simply lead RIDE to target these subjects for elimination in the next round of social studies standards revision. The radical activists have not entirely ruined the Standards; some individuals within RIDE have managed to preserve good material.
Yet RIDE, overall, has produced social studies standards that are among the worst in the nation. Minnesota’s draft social studies standards, for example, are even more politicized and possess even less historical content149—but Rhode Island has given Minnesota a run for its money. Rhode Islanders can see how badly RIDE has misserved their state in producing these Standards by looking not only at American Birthright but also at standards produced in Louisiana, South Dakota, and Virginia.150 These standards demonstrate how far RIDE has fallen below minimum professional expectations, much less best existing practices.
Rhode Island needs social studies standards that include:
A coherent presentation of what makes Western culture and history distinctive, and what American students should cherish in their Western inheritance.
A coherent presentation of what makes American culture and history distinctive, and what American students should cherish in their shared history.
A coherent presentation of the history of the ideals and institutions of liberty, including religious freedom.
A coherent presentation of the nature and the triumphs of Western and American science and technology.
A coherent presentation of the American nation’s common culture—America singing, and not least in the songs of Rhode Islanders such as George M. Cohan.
A coherent presentation of the primary sources of World and American history—above all, America’s documents of liberty.
A coherent goal to foster in students a common affection for America and for their fellow Americans, and to foster a common outlook as Americans.
Rhode Island’s social studies standards cannot be fixed simply by reform within the Department of Education. The Standards partly reflect priorities imposed by Rhode Island statute. They also reflect priorities among Department of Education personnel that will require new statutes to enforce. Our recommendations, therefore, include:
Statutes that should be rescinded or revised;
Statutes that should be enacted; and
Revisions within the Standards.
Rhode Island’s citizens, policymakers, and education administrators will need to work together to enact these recommendations.
Statutes: Rescind or Revise
§ 16-22-2. Civics education.151 § 16-22-2 imposes action civics on Rhode Island’s K-12 civics education, by requiring instruction in “actively engaged citizenship” and a middle-school or high-school “student-led civics project.” Rhode Island’s policymakers should rescind this statute.
§ 16-22-28. Instruction in media literacy.152 § 16-22-28 facilitates partisan instruction that defines radical media as credible and dismisses opposing media as untrustworthy. Rhode Island’s policymakers should rescind this statute.
§ 16-22-30. Statewide academic standards.153 § 16-22-30 facilitates the imposition of radical, identity politics ideology on K-12 academic standards, and authorizes the Department of Education bureaucracy to impose these standards on Rhode Island, without legislative veto, sufficient public comment, or the possibility of local opt-out. Rhode Island’s policymakers should rescind this statute.
§ 16-22-31. Curriculum frameworks.154 § 16-22-31 facilitates the imposition of radical, identity politics ideology on K-12 curriculum frameworks, and authorizes the Department of Education bureaucracy to impose these curriculum frameworks on Rhode Island, without legislative veto, sufficient public comment, or the possibility of local opt-out. Rhode Island’s policymakers should rescind this statute.
§ 16-22-32. High quality curriculum and materials.155 § 16-22-32 facilitates the imposition of radical, identity politics ideology on K-12 curriculum and materials, and authorizes the Department of Education bureaucracy to impose these curriculum and materials on Rhode Island, without legislative veto, sufficient public comment, or the possibility of local opt-out. Rhode Island’s policymakers should rescind this statute.
§ 16-22-33. Curriculum implementation accountability.156 § 16-22-32 facilitates the imposition of radical, identity politics ideology on K-12 curriculum implementation, and authorizes the Department of Education bureaucracy to impose this curriculum implementation on Rhode Island, without legislative veto, sufficient public comment, or the possibility of local opt-out. Rhode Island’s policymakers should rescind this statute.
§ 16-22-36. Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history study.157 § 16-22-36 facilitates the imposition of radical, identity politics ideology on K-12 curriculum. Rhode Island’s policymakers should rescind this statute and trust the citizenry, the teachers, and the school districts of Rhode Island to teach this material.
Chapter 16-93 Holocaust and Genocide Education in Secondary Schools.158 § 16-93 has been used to teach that America is a genocidal nation. Rhode Island’s policymakers should rescind this statute and trust the citizenry, the teachers, and the school districts of Rhode Island to teach this material. If they do not rescind it entirely, they should state explicitly that the only subject matter it requires is coverage of the Holocaust, Armenia, Cambodia, and Darfur, and that it does not authorize teaching the history of America as genocidal.
Chapter 16-110 African American History Education in Elementary and Secondary School.159 § 16-110 facilitates the imposition of radical, identity politics ideology on K-12 curriculum. Rhode Island’s policymakers should rescind this statute and trust the citizenry, the teachers, and the school districts of Rhode Island to teach this material.
Rhode Island should enact a series of statutes to mandate that the Department of Education provide proper standards—and to ensure that Rhode Island’s public and policymakers have the capacity to comment properly upon and veto the Department of Education’s academic standards. We draw most of our suggestions from the Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Civics Code.160
Academic Standards Act. Academic standards adoption will be governed by the following procedures:
The Department of Education will draft the academic standards in consultation with a politically diverse cross-section of the public.
The Department of Education will report to the governor and the legislature on its success in consulting with a politically diverse cross-section.
The Department of Education may not provide preferential access to any portion of the public, or to any professional, for-profit, or not-for-profit organizations, in the drafting of academic standards.
An elected state Board of Education will have the right to review draft academic standards and may require the Department of Education to alter draft Standards.
The elected state Board of Education will have independent staff, neither paid by nor members of the Department of Education.
The Department of Education will provide a six-month period of public comment for all academic standards, including at least four public meetings in different parts of the state. It will establish a website allowing for easy public comment, and it will make a good faith effort to address all public comments.
The Department of Education will publish a revised version of the academic standards no later than three months after the close of public comment, for submission to the elected state Board of Education for final approval.
The elected state Board of Education may amend the academic standards before final approval.
The Department of Education, in each stage of the drafting and public comment of academic standards, will provide easily accessible redlined PDFs of the entire academic standards on its website, which allow the Board of Education and the public to see how precisely the current draft differs from the previously approved academic standards, and from the previous draft of the academic standards.
The Department of Education may not require any school district to adopt its academic standards.
This model Academic Standards Act only regulates the administrative procedures for drafting and adopting academic standards. We provide for legislative review of academic standards below, in the Legislative Review Act. We also believe that it may be appropriate for a governor to appoint a special commission to draft an academic standard, as a means to sidestep the permanent bureaucracies of education departments. The procedure outlined in the Academic Standards Act is not meant to preclude either legislative veto or gubernatorial initiative.
Partisanship Out of Civics Act. The Partisanship Out of Civics Act prevents teachers from giving credit to action civics or any other sort of public policy advocacy in history, government, civics, or social studies. It also bars civics classes from using the discriminatory ideology at the heart of Critical Race Theory.161
Schools Nondiscrimination Act. The Schools Nondiscrimination Act mandates that no one should be either included or excluded from content standards, curricula, trainings, textbooks, and other school materials on account of their race, sex, or other group identity.162
Values Assessment Act. The Values Assessment Act prohibits public schools from assessing, rewarding, or punishing students, teachers, or administrators for their level of commitment to any value or attitude that requires assent to any philosophy or political framework.163
Legislative Review Act. The Legislative Review Act requires all existing academic standards, and all forthcoming revisions, to be submitted to the state legislature and the governor for review and possible veto.164
Social Studies Curriculum Act. The Social Studies Curriculum Act mandates K-12 instruction in Economics, State History, United States History, Civics, and Western Civilization.165
Civics Course Act. The Civics Course Act mandates a year-long high school civics course, including requirements to study the primary documents of the American founding and bans on action civics and the components of Critical Race Theory.166
United States History Act. The United States History Act mandates a year-long high school United States History course, including requirements to study the primary documents of American history and bans on action civics and the components of Critical Race Theory.167
Western Civilization Act. The Western Civilization Act mandates a year-long high school Western Civilization course, including requirements to study the primary documents of Western Civilization and bans on action civics and the components of Critical Race Theory.168
Historical Documents Act. The Historical Documents Act mandates instruction in historical documents and the liberty to use historical documents.169
Standards: Recommended Revision
Rhode Island will certainly need legislative reform to achieve good social studies standards. But we wish to provide substantive recommendations for how the Standards should be revised. Our first recommendation, of course, is simply to use American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards, which focuses upon the ideals and institutions of liberty, as the model for Rhode Island’s social studies standards. Yet if Rhode Islanders were to engage in detailed reform of its existing Standards, we believe these should be the priorities.
Simplify Format: The Standards should adopt a straightforward bullet-point format; use lucid, everyday language; remove skills instruction; remove supporting questions; and generally remove all components of the Inquiry Strands except the Content Standards. The Standards should be fewer than 100 pages in length.
K-6 Patriotism: The K-6 standards should be revised to include substantial age-appropriate coverage throughout of America’s symbols, stories, heroes, history, government, and freedom.
Age-Appropriate Revision: The Standards should be revised to ensure that its subject matter coverage is age-appropriate, and only addresses subject matters such as homosexuality or genocide when students possess sufficient maturity.
Remove All Action Civics: The Standards should remove all action civics prompts and requirements. Special attention should be paid to removing action civics from the Grade 6 standards, and not reinserting that material elsewhere.
Remove All Politicization: The Standards should remove all politicization. Special attention should be paid to removing radical identity politics from the Grade 6 standards, and not reinserting that material elsewhere.
Remove All Jargon: The Standards should remove all jargon, particularly jargon that forwards politicization and jargon that has become popular in the last generation.
Revise Genocide Instruction to Fit Statutory Warrant: The Standards should limit genocide education to the Holocaust, Armenia, Cambodia, and Darfur.
Revise Geography: The Standards should reform Geography instruction to focus on learning the map of the country and the world, and not on politicized topics such as climate change and migration. The Standards should move basic instruction in World Geography from high school to Grade 7.
Revise Civics: The Standards should reform Civics instruction to focus on actual civics, and not on radical intrusions such as global citizenship.
Western Civilization: The Standards should provide discrete, sustained coverage of Western Civilization throughout K-12 instruction, to teach students the coherent narrative of the ideals and institutions of liberty contained within the histories of the ancient Middle East, Israel, Greece, Rome, Medieval Christendom, the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and medieval and early modern England.
World History: The Standards should contain discrete coverage of World History, to introduce students to the histories of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
American Culture: The Standards should integrate coverage of the history of America’s common culture throughout its United States History sequence.
African American History: The Standards should inform its coverage of African history with 1776 Unites’ curriculum, whose lesson plans “celebrate black excellence, reject victimhood culture, and showcase African-Americans who have prospered by embracing America’s founding ideals.”170
Historical Documents: The Standards should be framed around instruction in primary sources, above all in America’s documents of liberty.171
Writing Expectations: The Standards should include writing standards in each grade that build toward the expectation that twelfth graders write an intellectually and stylistically sophisticated 10-page history paper, which demonstrates that they are prepared for an undergraduate history course.
Licensure Requirements and Professional Development: The Department of Education also should update its licensure requirements and professional development to ensure that its teachers are equipped to teach curriculum that aligns with these suggested revisions.
Rhode Island’s citizens deserve excellent social studies standards. RIDE’s Standards fail entirely to achieve this goal; they teach students to hate their country, its history, and its ideals, and to know only distorted tatters of the history of the world. 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.
Appendix 1: Identity Politics Catechism
This Appendix includes a broad selection of quotations from the Standards, which illustrates RIDE’s rigid and monotonous imposition on social studies instruction of identity-politics ideology.
Diversity of patriots (e.g., white men and women from all classes, free Blacks, enslaved peoples, and Indigenous peoples) and their reasons for and ways of rebelling against the Crown (SS184.108.40.206, p. 136)
In what ways did Indigenous people, free Blacks, enslaved peoples, and women participate in the war? (SS5.3.2, pp. 136-37)
Women’s role as patriots (e.g., Deborah Sampson, Phillis Wheatley, homespun, spinning bees, camp followers) (SS220.127.116.11, p. 137)
Roles diverse individuals played in the Civil War (e.g., free Blacks and enslaved Africans, women, children, LGBTQIA+ individuals, Indigenous peoples) (SS18.104.22.168, p. 148)
Experiences of white westward migration, especially for women (SSHSUSI.5.6.2, p. 293)
Strand 1: Relationships between the United States Constitution and women, enslaved people, free Blacks, Indigenous peoples, non-propertied men, and others (SSHSUSI, p. 262)
Strand 5: Roles of both free and enslaved African Americans, Indigenous Americans, women, and immigrants in the Civil War (SSHSUSI, p. 263)
How did women, workers, and African Americans participate in protest against British policies? (SSHSUSI.2.3, Colonial responses to British imperial policies, p. 273) Aren’t they complicit in everything America did thereafter?
How did the American Revolution affect the lives of women, enslaved and free African Americans, and Indigenous people? (SSHSUSI.2.7, The participation of different social groups in the American Revolution, p. 277)
Effects of the Textile Revolution on different groups (e.g., women, enslaved people, children), especially in Rhode Island, and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.4.1, p. 291)
This inquiry strand focuses on the collaborative efforts of diverse abolitionists to end slavery in the United States. How did free Blacks and white women participate in the abolitionist movement? (SSHSUSI.6.3, Abolitionists and their arguments against slavery, p. 297
This inquiry strand focuses on the roles and experiences of non-combatants during the Civil War. How did free and enslaved African Americans experience the Civil War? How did Indigenous Americans experience the Civil War? How did women experience the Civil War? How did immigrants experience the Civil War? (SSHSUSI.7.5, Roles of both free and enslaved African Americans, Indigenous Americans, women, and immigrants in the Civil War, pp. 305-06)
How did Black Americans experience military service during World War II? What were the experiences of Native Americans in the military during World War II? (SSHSUSII.5.5, The United States military actions in Europe during World War II, pp. 342-43)
How did women such as Jo Ann Robinson, Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, and Fannie Lou Hamer contribute to the Civil Rights Movement? (SSHSUSII.8.3, Key figures of the Civil Rights Movement and their contributions, p. 354)
Appendix 2: And Who Benefitted
This Appendix includes a broad selection of quotations from the Standards, which illustrates RIDE’s pervasive and selective use of the cynical and intellectual constrictive phrase “and who benefitted”.
Ways mass migrations of people can affect locations (e.g., depletion of resources or a change in the environment) and other people (e.g., colonialism’s effects on Indigenous peoples) and who benefits (SS22.214.171.124, p. 63)
Rationale for and components of the charter Williams obtained from England and who benefitted (SS126.96.36.199, p. 108)
Examples of major conflicts between the English colonists and the Indigenous people, who was involved, and who benefited from the outcomes (e.g., Pequot War, King Philip’s War, Great Swamp Massacre, the sale of Indigenous people after the wars into slavery in Bermuda) (SS188.8.131.52, p. 109)
Conditions of the enslavement and trade of Africans, how the triangular trade functioned, and who benefited (SS184.108.40.206, p. 111)
Rhode Island’s involvement of the trade in enslaved Africans, who was complicit, and who benefited (SS220.127.116.11, p. 111)
Rationales for and elements of 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and who benefitted (SS18.104.22.168, p. 153)
Legislative attempts to prevent immigration and who they benefitted (SS22.214.171.124, Immigration, p. 155)
New social spaces, educational changes, and creative opportunities related to urbanization and who benefitted (e.g., changes to education system, development of parks and playgrounds, Harlem Renaissance 1920s, New Woman of the 1920s, expansion of LGBTQIA+ communities) (SS126.96.36.199, p. 158)
Creation of global networks and international cooperations (e.g., United Nations, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), transnational issues, G-8 and G-20 summits, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), criminal and terrorist organizations) and who benefits (SS188.8.131.52, p. 177)
Similarities and differences in people’s experiences with government and who benefits (SSHSCVC.1.1.3, p. 224)
Advantages and disadvantages of each form of government (e.g., oligarchy, democracy, monarchy) and who benefits (SSHSCVC.1.2.2. p. 225)
Options for limiting governmental power and who benefits (SSHSCVC.1.3.5, p. 227)
Definitions and implications of republicanism and democracy and who benefits (SSHSCVC.2.1.2, p. 230)
Social and economic changes after the Revolutionary War and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.2.1.3, p. 230)
Key ideas expressed in Common Sense, its impact, and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.2.2.1, p. 231)
Perspectives on natural rights and the role of government in the Declaration of Independence and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.2.2.4, p. 231)
Rights and responsibilities given to the states and the national government under the Articles of Confederation and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.2.3.1, p. 232)
Definition of and rationale for federalism and who benefited (SSHSCVC.2.4.1, p. 233)
Arguments and rationales for them in the Federalist Papers and who benefitted
Ways in which slavery was described in the Constitution and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.2.4.4, p. 233)
Distinctions between the Virginia and New Jersey plans and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.2.4.5, pp. 233-34)
Impact of the Constitution on different groups in American society and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.2.4.6, p. 234)
Differing perceptions of the Constitution and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.3.1.3, p. 235)
Arguments among representatives at the Constitutional Convention over slavery and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.3.3.2, p. 237)
Manner in which slavery is addressed in the Constitution and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.3.3.3, p. 238)
Nature and examples of how money is used to influence politics and who benefits (SSHSCVC.5.5.1, p. 250)
Nature and examples of how media influences politics and who benefits (SSHSCVC.5.5.2, p. 250)
SSHSCVC.6.1.3 - CG.RL 1-3; CG.RR 1-3: Definition and examples of electoral integrity and who benefits (SSHSCVC.6.1.3, p. 251)
Historical changes in voting requirements (e.g, property ownership including the Dorr Rebellion in Rhode Island, religion, gender, race) and who benefitted (SSHSCVC.6.3.1, p. 253)
Roles and conditions of indentured servitude and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.1.2.2, p. 265)
Roles and conditions of African enslavement and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.1.2.3, p. 265)
Interactions between Indigenous groups and English colonists and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.1.3.3, p. 266)
Nature, conditions, and roles in the so-called Columbian Exchange and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.1.4.1, p. 267)
Rhode Island’s participation in the African slave trade, who was complicit, and who benefited and who did not (SSHSUSI.1.6.1, pp. 269-70)
Outcomes of the Seven Years War and who benefited and how (SSHSUSI.2.2.2, p. 272)
Treatment of slavery in the Declaration of Independence and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.2.4.4, p. 274)
Impacts of the Revolutionary War and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.2.6.4, p. 276)
Gradual emancipation laws in northern colonies, including Rhode Island’s Gradual Emancipation Act of 1784, the laws as compromise, and who benefited (SSHSUSI.2.7.1, p. 277)
Jefferson’s views of and actions toward land acquisition and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.1.1, p. 288)
Effects of the First Seminole War and Adams-Onis Treaty and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.1.2, p. 288)
Rationale for and results of Manifest Destiny and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.1.3, p. 288)
Rationale for and outcomes of the Mexican War and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.1.4, p. 288)
Rationale for, conditions of, and results from the Market Revolution and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.2.1, p. 289)
Nature and conditions of capitalism and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.2.2, p. 289)
Nature and conditions of industrialization and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.2.3, p. 289)
Nature and conditions of mechanization and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.2.4, p. 289)
Nature of Jackson’s political beliefs and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.3.1, p. 290)
Nature and outcomes of Jacksonian Democracy and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.3.2, p. 290)
Rationale for the Second Party System and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.3.3, p. 290)
Nature and outcomes of Jackson’s treatment of Indigenous people and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.3.4, p. 290)
Nature and conditions leading to corporations and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.4.2, p. 291)
Rationale for and outcomes of white migration west and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.6.1, p. 293)
Debates over and impact of white western migration on slavery and who benefited (SSHSUSI.5.6.3, p. 293)
Effects of the Gold Rush and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.6.4, p. 293)
Governmental actions in removal of Indigenous groups and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.5.7.1, p. 294)
Rationale for and nature of the Second Great Awakening and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.6.1.1, p. 295)
Goals and outcomes of the Second Great Awakening and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.6.1.3, p. 295)
Connections between the abolitionist and women’s right movements and who benefitted (SSHSUSI.6.2.3, p. 296)
Purpose, role, and defining characteristics of labor unions in the late 19th century and who benefitted (SSHSUSII.1.5.1, p. 317)
Rationale for and policies aimed to translate President Reagan's foreign policy into effect and who benefitted (e.g., increased military spending, (SSHSUSII. 10.2.2, p. 366)
Examples and impact of President Trump's domestic and foreign policies and actions and who benefitted (e.g., Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Make America Great Again, Covid) (SSHSUSII.10.4.2, p. 368)
Relationship between the internet and disinformation and who benefits (SSHSUSII.10.5.3, p. 369)
Relationships between caste groups, impact on society, and who benefitted. (SSHSWRLDI.2.2.1, p. 378)
Relationships between social classes, impact on society, and who benefitted (SSHSWRLDI.2.5.5, p. 381)
Who benefitted from the advancements made from the Golden Ages? (SSHSWRLDI.2.7, Major dynasties and their achievements in ancient China, p. 384)
Impact of strong military on the expansion of empires (e.g., Punic wars) and who benefitted (SSHSWRLDI.3.5.6, p. 390)
Impact of economic disparities on trade and economic activity and who benefitted (SSHSWRLDI.3.7.1, p. 391)
Objectives and impacts of the crusades and who benefited (SSHSWRLDI.8.3.4, p. 417).
Similarities and differences between feudal structures and the organization of the Church and who benefitted (SSHSWRLDII.1.1.3, p. 421)
The focus of this inquiry strand is to analyze the causes and effects of European colonization on American civilizations and understand who benefited and suffered due to European exploration and colonization. (SSHSWRLDII.2.3, European colonization in the Americas, p. 428)
The application of democratic and constitutional principles, theorized by John Locke and others, to select groups loyal to the Crown and who benefited (SSHSWRLDII.3.2.3, p. 431)
Examples of industrial spread across Europe (e.g., Berlin, Saxony, Bohemia) and who benefitted (SSHSWRLDII.5.2.2, p. 440)
Relationship between economic growth and expansionist interests (e.g., global resources locations in Africa and Asia for rubber, ivory, manganese) and who benefitted (SSHSWRLDII.5.4.1, p. 442)
Appendix 3: Action Civics
This Appendix includes a broad selection of quotations from the Standards, which illustrates RIDE’s imposition on social studies instruction of propaganda for and vocational training in progressive activism.
How can kids serve within the community? (SS1.4.1, p. 44)
What are different types of leaders? (e.g., community organizer, social justice leader, elected officials like the mayor) (SS1.4.2, p. 45)
The focus of this inquiry strand is for students to learn how to create positive social change in the world around them. (SS1.4.5, p. 48)
Creating change through service and community actions (e.g., town hall meetings, peaceful protests, and marches) (SS184.108.40.206, p. 49)
Ways that individuals and communities can combat pollution through means such as reducing, reusing, and recycling our use of plastics, rubbers, glasses, paper (SS220.127.116.11, p. 61)
Ways that people can help the environment (e.g., recycling, creating renewable energy such as solar energy, composting, planting trees, urban gardening, ecotourism) (SS18.104.22.168, p. 62)
In this inquiry strand, students will explore what it means to be a global citizen. What is global citizenship? What are ways we can engage in global citizenship? How can we as humans resolve global problems together? (SS2.4.1, Global citizenship, p. 67)
Ways people work together to resolve global issues such as climate change, wars, disease (SS22.214.171.124, p. 67)
Individuals and groups who have become global leaders through their actions and advocacy for positive change (SS126.96.36.199, p. 68)
Some governmental and non-governmental organizations dedicated to helping individuals and communities internationally deal with issues such scarcity, health, environment, etc. (e.g., World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders) (SS188.8.131.52, p. 69)
Ways that individuals can help to resolve world issues (e.g., by working for or volunteering their time at some of the above-named organizations) (SS184.108.40.206, p. 69)
In this inquiry, students will learn about people who have brought social change to the world and ways they can also contribute to positive change. Who are people who have brought social change to the world? Do you have to be a leader in government to bring change? In what ways can we bring change to our community and world around us? (SS2.4.5, Creating change, p. 71)
Some historical figures who brought change and what they did to bring change throughout the world (e.g., Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Susan B Anthony, Jane Goodall) and the challenges they faced (SS220.127.116.11, p. 71)
Some contemporary individuals and groups who are working on social change in our world (e.g., Greta Thunberg, scientists who work on vaccines, people fighting for immigration rights, and front line workers such as firefighter, police, teachers, doctors, and nurses) and the challenges they face (SS18.104.22.168, p. 71)
Ways that students can also contribute to positive change in small and large scales (e.g., in their schools, community, country, or world) (SS22.214.171.124, p. 71)
Examples of ways children in Rhode Island’s past have participated in some of these movements (SS126.96.36.199, p. 124)
How can children participate in their state and local governments? (SS4.6.4, pp. 124-25)
Ways children can participate in their local and state governments despite not being of voting age (SS188.8.131.52, p. 124)
In what ways did ordinary people bring about change? What role can students play in efforts for equality for Black Americans? (SS6.4.1, p. 165)
What gender inequities do women face today? What roles can students play in efforts for equality for women? (SS6.4.2, p. 167)
Ways young students can contribute to efforts for equality for women (SS184.108.40.206, p. 167)
What roles can students play in efforts for equality for Latinx Americans? (SS6.4.3, Latinx Rights Movement, p. 169)
Ways young students can contribute to efforts for equality for Latinx (SS220.127.116.11, p. 169)
What are some ways that students can help fight against racism and hate toward the AAPI community? (SS6.4.4, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) rights movement , p. 170)
Ways young students can contribute to efforts for equality for AAPI communities (SS18.104.22.168, p. 170)
Ways that young students can support Indigenous communities (SS22.214.171.124, p. 172)
Ways that young students can advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights in their communities (SS126.96.36.199, p. 173)
Ways that young students can advocate for equal access for people with disabilities (SS188.8.131.52, p. 175)
This course presents an opportunity for districts to implement the civics project requirement. Grade 8: Government and Civic Life in the United States and Rhode Island, Introduction, p. 197
In this inquiry strand, students learn what it means to be civically engaged in the past so they can identify ways to participate today. What are the ways that individuals today can participate civically in addition to voting? (SS8.1.2, Civic participation, p. 200)
Ways that students can participate in their communities (SS184.108.40.206, p. 200)
Opportunities to become politically involved and impact of that involvement (SSHSCVC.5.4.2, p. 249)
What historical examples exist of people successfully affecting change in the political system outside of voting? (SSHSCVC.5.5, Tactics political parties and interest groups use to influence politics, pp. 249-50)
Opportunities to become involved in issues beyond the United States (SSHSCVC.8.3.2, p. 260)
1 These first two paragraphs originally appeared in American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards, p. 18, https://civicsalliance.org/american-birthright/. For the civic purposes of social studies instruction, see also Wilfred M. McClay, National Expert: Minnesota’s Academic Standards Among the Nation’s Worst: Review of the 2021 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies, Draft Three (Center of the American Experiment, 2022), pp. 7-9, https://files.americanexperiment.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Among-The-Nations-Worst.pdf.
2 We comment upon Rhode Island Social Studies Standards – Draft (December 2022), https://www.nas.org/storage/app/media/New%20Documents/rhode-island-draftssstandardsstakeholderinput2022.pdf. We expect that the final published version will be nearly identical, when it is approved in early 2023.
3 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-30. Statewide academic standards. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-30.htm; R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-31. Curriculum frameworks. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-31.htm; R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-32. High quality curriculum and materials. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-32.htm; R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-33. Curriculum implementation accountability. http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-33.htm.
4 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-30(a)(1-2). In R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-30. Statewide academic standards. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-30.htm.
5 Commissioner’s Weekly Field Memo, Wednesday, December 7, 2022.
6 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-30. Statewide academic standards. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-30.htm.
7 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-31. Curriculum frameworks. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-31.htm; R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-32. High quality curriculum and materials. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-32.htm.
8 SSHSWRLDI.6.1.3, p. 404.
9 SSHSCVC.4.1.2, p. 240; also see SSHSCVC.4.1.3, p. 240.
10 The Standards use impact/impacts/impacted/impacting 350 times.
11 SSHSWRLDII.7.1, Decolonization and self-determination, p. 449.
12 E.g., SS220.127.116.11, p. 57; SS18.104.22.168, pp. 141-42; SS22.214.171.124, p. 145; SS7.3.2, p. 186; SSHSUSII.10.4.3, p. 368; SSHSWRLDI.4.5, p. 397.
13 E.g., “Governmental power and the role [of what?].” High School Civics, Topic 1, Strand 3, p. 222; SSHSCVC.1.3, p. 226. Likewise, “Rationale for and conditions of the Reformation (e.g., selling indulgences, salvation, transubstantiation) and its impact [on] different groups of people (e.g, persecution of Jewish peoples)” (SSHSWRLDII.1.4.1, p. 424)
14 E.g., “Examples of the influence of of humanism on religious thought (e.g., history, poetry, moral philosophy, rhetoric)” (SSHSWRLDII.1.3.1, p. 422)
15 E.g., “What happened with the Soviet Union collapsed?” SSHSUSII.10.2, The New Right and the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, p. 366.
16 “CG.P 1-2, 4; H.IG 1, 4: History of the Bantus of Sub-Saharan Africa, Teotihuacan of Mesoamerica, and Mayans in the Yucatan, how they grew, the role of political unity on their development, and key figures.” (p. 193) This should be Content Standard SS126.96.36.199, but it has no numeration. SS188.8.131.52 below on the same page should be SS184.108.40.206.
17 E.g., SSHSCVC.1.2.2, p. 226, should be SSHSCVC.1.2.3; SSHSWRLDII.2.4.6, p. 428 should be SSHSWRLDII.2.3.6; SSHSWRLDII.4.4.4, p. 438, should be SSHSWRLDII.4.3.4.
18 E.g., “This inquiry strand focuses on the problems and opportunities rapid urbanization had on the conditions of daily life in late 19th century cities.” (SSHSUSII.1.6, Rapid urbanization presented in the late nineteenth century, p. 318) Likewise: “How did changes in religious beliefs impact a change in government and rule of law?” (SSHSWRLDII.3.2, The British Empire, p. 430)
19 E.g., “Differing perceptions of the Constitution and who benefitted.” (SSHSCVC.3.1.3, p. 235) The authors may have intended a radical critique of the Constitution, but there is no logical sequitur that leads from differing perceptions to benefits. The Content Standard as written is incoherent, even for the purpose of advancing a radical critique. Likewise, “Social, political, and economic differences between Muslim and non-Muslim individuals’ experiences of non-Muslims” (SSHSWRLDI.4.3.4 p. 395) The phrase “non-Muslim individuals’ experiences of non-Muslims” makes no sense. It is similarly impossible to determine what is meant by “Impact of architecture under Islamic Rule” (SSHSWRLDI.4.5.1, p. 397).
20 E.g., “Each of the twelve anchor standards has a consistent four-part hierarchy of cognitive skills designed to support thoughtful inquiry of social studies content: Identify, Explain, Analyze, and Argue.” (p. 4)
21 E.g., “How was the growth of the cotton empire related to expansionism? How did the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the Missouri Compromise of 1820 affect slavery? How was slavery a factor in the addition of new states to the union?” and “SSHSUSI.6.6.1 - G.HPE 1-4; G.HSP 1; E.PC 1-4: Relationship between cotton and U.S. expansion and who benefitted. SSHSUSI.6.6.2 - CG.RL 3; G.HPE 1-4; G.HSP 1: Impact of governmental actions on expansion of slavery. SSHSUSI.6.6.3 - CG.RL 3; G.HPE 1-4; G.HSP 1: Relationship between slavery and addition of new states (e.g., Texas).” (Inquiry Strand SSHSUSI.6.6, The impact of western expansion on the debate over slavery in the United States, pp. 299-300)
22 E.g., “What are some of the similarities and differences between the changes happening in different regions of Afro-Eurasia?” (Inquiry Strand SS7.4.2, Spread of ideas and social transformations, p. 189)
23 E.g., “How are historically marginalized people supported by the local city or town and what resources are offered?” (Inquiry Strand SS8.4.1, Local Governments, p. 210)
24 Anchor Standards supposedly prescribe “Making arguments and taking positions and supporting those positions with evidence.” (p. 4) Yet there is no writing expectation associated with these skills.
25 E.g., American Birthright, pp. 20-21.
26 “The flag of the United States and the meaning of the colors, symbols of the United States (e.g., bald eagle), the meaning of the words in the Pledge of Allegiance, and ways to show national pride.” SSK.2.2.4, p. 19.
27 SSK.3.4.5, p. 26; SSK.4.1.3, p. 27; SSK.4.3.7, p. 30; SS220.127.116.11, p. 39; SS18.104.22.168, p. 48; SS22.214.171.124, p. 51; SS126.96.36.199, p. 52; SS188.8.131.52, p. 137; SS184.108.40.206, p. 145.
28 For K-3 patriotic content, including traditions, celebrations and stories, see American Birthright, pp. 36-41, 43, 45-46 [Kindergarten: Items 1, 3, 5, 8-10; Grade 1: Items 1-4, 6-9, 14-15, 17-19; Grade 2: Items 2, 7, 9-11, 13-15; Grade 3: 1-10].
29 For Economics standards, see Indiana Academic Standards: Economics, Indiana Department of Education, https://www.in.gov/doe/files/Economics-Standards-2020.pdf; American Birthright, pp. 68-74 [Grade 7: Economics].
30 SSHSWRLDI.1.2, Early River Valley Civilizations, pp. 373-74; SSHSWRLDI.2.1, Geography of ancient India and China, p. 377; SSHSWRLDI.3.1, Geography and its role in Greek civilization, p. 385; SSHSWRLDI.3.4, Geography of ancient Rome, p. 388; SSHSWRLDI.5.1, Climates and environments of sub-Saharan Africa, p. 398; SSHSWRLDI.6.1, Peoples of North America, pp. 404-05; SSHSWRLDI.7.1, Geography of ancient Central Asia and the Middle East, p. 409.
31 SSHSUSI.5.5, Expansion of slavery and the lives of enslaved people during the first half of the nineteenth century, p. 292; SSHSUSII.8.4, Ideologies, goals, and tactics of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and their evolution in the 1960s, p. 355.
32 SSHSUSII.3.3.1, p. 330; SSHSUSII.3.5, The Harlem Renaissance, pp. 331-32; SSHSUSII.6.3.2, p. 347; SSHSUSII.7.2, Social and cultural tensions of the post-war era, p. 351.
33 For the history of American culture, see American Birthright, pp. 124-25, 130, 132, 136-37, 141 [Grade 11: United States History: Items 15, 39, 49, 63-64, 78].
34 SSHSUSI.5.2, pp. 288-89; SSHSUSII.1.1.1, p. 313; SSHSUSII.10.5, The internet and the connected society, pp. 368-69.
35 For the history of American technology, see American Birthright, pp. 128, 131, 141 [Grade 11: United States History: Items 33, 47, 77].
36 SSHSUSII.7.1, The effect of World War II on the American economy and the growth of post-war affluence, pp. 349-50.
37 Save the query, “How is early Roman government considered a democratic republic?” (SSHSWRLDI.3.5, Social and political systems of ancient Rome and phases of Roman expansion, p. 389). This question is misleading, since the Roman republic was a mixed republic with democratic elements, but never a democratic republic.
38 SSHSWRLDI.2.5.5, p. 381; SSHSWRLDI.8.2.1, p. 416.
39 SS220.127.116.11, p. 167.
40 SS18.104.22.168, pp. 168-69.
41 SS22.214.171.124, p. 171.
42 SSHSWRLDI.1.3, Social and Political Structures of Ancient Mesopotamia, p. 375; SSHSWRLDI.3.1.1, p. 385; Topic 4: The Emergence of the Islamic Empire, p. 392; SSHSWRLDI.4.1, Development of Islam and the role of Muhammad as spiritual and political leader, p. 393; SSHSWRLDI.4.2, Expansion of the Islamic empire, p. 394; SSHSWRLDI.4.2, Expansion of the Islamic empire, p. 394; SSHSWRLDI.4.2, Expansion of the Islamic empire, p. 394; SSHSWRLDI.4.2.4, p. 394; SSHSWRLDI.4.3, Structure of Islamic government and society in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and northern Africa, p. 395; SSHSWRLDI.4.5, Cultural, intellectual, scientific, and technological achievements of the Islamic Golden Age, p. 397; SSHSWRLDI.4.5, Cultural, intellectual, scientific, and technological achievements of the Islamic Golden Age, p. 397; SSHSWRLDI.4.5, Cultural, intellectual, scientific, and technological achievements of the Islamic Golden Age, p. 397; SSHSWRLDI.4.5.6, p. 397.
43 SSHSWRLDI.8.1, Development and expansion of the Persian and Macedonian empires, pp. 414-15; SSHSWRLDI.8.1, Development and expansion of the Persian and Macedonian empires, pp. 414-15.
44 The Samanid empire (819-999) was Persianate, but largely ruled Central Asian territory, north of modern Iran. Other dynasties embodied fragments of Persian rule, but for K-12 instruction, it is sufficient to say there was no Persian empire between the Sassanids and the Safavids.
45 SSHSWRLDI.8.2, The relationship between Roman and Byzantine empires, pp. 415-16.
46 SSHSWRLDII.4.3, Imperialism, expansion, and influence, p. 438; SSHSWRLDII.4.4.4, p. 438.
47 SSHSWRLDII.6.2.1, p. 445.
48 February and October by the Russian dating of the time; March and November by the Western calendar. They are known in the history books as the February and October Revolutions.
49 SS126.96.36.199, p. 138; SS8.1.1, p. 199; SS188.8.131.52, p. 200; SS184.108.40.206, p. 201; SSHSCVC.2.4, p. 233; SSHSCVC.2.4.3, p. 233; SSHSUSI.3.2, Philosophical and ideological foundations of the United States political system, p. 279; SSHSUSI.3.2.2, p. 279.
50 For the mythical nature of this belief, see Nancy Dieter Egloff, “Six Nations of Ignorant Savages”: Benjamin Franklin and the Iroquois League of Nations, William and Mary Ph.D. diss., 1987, https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/235409056.pdf; Rob Natelson, “Did the Iroquois Confederation influence the Constitution? A myth they may be teaching your children,” Independence Institute, April 22, 2022, https://i2i.org/did-the-iroquois-confederation-influence-the-constitution-a-myth-they-may-be-teaching-your-children/.
51 American Birthright’s Primary Themes (pp. 22-23), Main Topics (pp. 23-24) and Disciplinary Methodologies (pp. 28-29) provide an unpoliticized counterpart to the Anchor Standards.
52 E.g., Michel Foucault, Power: Essential Works, 1954-1984 (Penguin, 2020).
53 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-30. Statewide academic standards. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-30.htm.
54 This word count includes the Anchor Standards; this table partially overlaps with the previous word count devoted solely to the Anchor Standards.
55 SS220.127.116.11-3, p. 164.
56 SSK.1.1.1, p. 13.
57 SS8.4.1, Local governments, p. 210.
58 SSHSWRLDII.3.5.2, p. 434.
59 SS18.104.22.168, p. 172.
60 SS22.214.171.124, p. 167.
61 SSHSUSII.7.2, Social and cultural tensions of the post-war era, pp. 350-51.
62 SS126.96.36.199, p. 35.
63 SSHSUSI.2.5.1, p. 275; SSHSUSI.2.7.1, p. 277.
64 SSK.1.1.5, p. 14.
65 SSHSCVC.3.4.3, p. 239.
66 SS188.8.131.52, p. 133.
67 SSHSUSI.2.7, The participation of different social groups in the American Revolution, p. 277.
68 SS184.108.40.206, p. 171.
69 Settler colonialism is taken to implicate every aspect of a settler nation in genocidal guilt. The Standards’ repeated application of settler colonialism to the United States is a slightly euphemized accusation that every aspect of American history is morally implicated in genocide.
70 Google NGram: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=LGBTQIA&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3, https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=latinx&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3.
71 SS5.1.2, p. 129; SS220.127.116.11, pp. 187-88; SSHSUSI.1.1.4, p 264; SSHSUSII.1.4.1, p. 316; SSHSUSII.3.5.1, p. 332.
72 SS18.104.22.168, p. 112; SSHSUSI.1.6, The transformation of human beings into property and commodities within the Atlantic trading system, pp. 269-70; SSHSUSI.1.6.1, p. 269; SSHSWRLDII.7.3.2, p. 451.
73 SS4.3.3, p. 112; SS5.6.1, p. 145; SS22.214.171.124, p. 145; SS126.96.36.199, p. 145; SS5.6.4, p. 149; SSHSUSI.5.5, Expansion of slavery and the lives of enslaved people during the first half of the nineteenth century, pp. 291-92; SSHSWRLDII.7.3.2, p. 451.
74 SS188.8.131.52, p. 170.
75 SS184.108.40.206, p. 141; SS220.127.116.11, p. 142; SSHSUSI.5.7, Federal policy toward Indigenous peoples in the antebellum era, pp. 293-94; SSHSUSI.5.7.2, p. 294.
76 SS18.104.22.168, p. 48; SSHSCVC.5.4.3, p. 249; SSHSUSII.1.5, The organization of labor unions, pp. 317-18.
77 SS22.214.171.124, p. 39; SSHSCVC.3.4.4, p. 239; SSHSCVC.3.4.5, p. 239.
78 SS5.3.1, p. 135.
79 SS126.96.36.199, p. 149.
80 SSHSWRLDI.4.3.1, p. 395.
81 SSHSWRLDI.6.1.4, p. 405.
82 SS188.8.131.52, p. 188.
83 SS7.5.1, Solidification of major empires, pp. 189-90; SSHSWRLDI.2.2, Social and political organizations of Ancient India, p. 378; SSHSWRLDI.2.2.1, p. 378; SSHSWRLDI.2.2.2, p. 378; SSHSWRLDI.2.3.2, p. 379.
84 SS5.3.2, pp. 136-37.
85 SS184.108.40.206, p. 148.
86 SSHSUSI, p. 262.
87 SSHSUSI.2.7, The participation of different social groups in the American Revolution, p. 277.
88 SSHSUSI.5.4.1, p. 291.
89 SSK.1.1.5, p. 14.
90 SSK.2.1.1, p. 18; and see SS220.127.116.11, p. 46.
91 Strand 4, p. 222; SSHSCVC.2.4, Questions about power considered by the founders when they created the government of the new United States, p. 233; SSHSWRLDI.3.7.4, p. 392; SSHSWRLDII.1.3.2, p. 422; SSHSWRLDII.3.1, Intellectual revolutions, p. 430.
92 “Ways in which key figures and groups of Progressive reform used their power to bring about change” SSHSUSII.2.1.2, p. 322. Also see SSHSUSII.2.2.2, p. 323; SSHSUSII.3.3.2, p. 330;
93 Charles A. Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913).
94 SS18.104.22.168, p. 138.
95 SS22.214.171.124, p. 203.
96 SSHSCVC.2.1.5, p. 230.
97 SSHSCVC.2.2.4, p. 231.
98 SSHSUSI.2.6.4, p. 276.
99 SSHSCVC.2.4.6, p. 234.
100 SS126.96.36.199, Immigration, p. 155.
101 SSHSWRLDI.8.3.4, p. 417.
102 SSHSWRLDII.2.3, European colonization in the Americas, p. 428.
103 The Aztec cult of human sacrifice suggests a direct answer to the question, “Who suffered?”
104 SSHSUSI.6.1.1, p. 295.
105 SS188.8.131.52, p. 82; SS184.108.40.206, p. 159; SSHSUSI.2.3, Colonial responses to British imperial policies, p. 273.
106 SS4.2.3, The Founding of the Rhode Island Colonies, p. 107; SS220.127.116.11, p. 107.
107 SS5.3.3, Declaration of Independence, p. 137; SS18.104.22.168, p. 137; SS8.2.1, The Declaration of Independence, pp. 202-03; SS22.214.171.124, p. 203; SS126.96.36.199, p. 203.
108 SS8.2.1, The Declaration of Independence, pp. 202-03; SS188.8.131.52, p. 203.
109 Topic 4, p. 101; SS4.3.3, Enslaved and free Africans, p. 112; SS184.108.40.206, p. 112; Topic 4, p. 113; SS220.127.116.11, p. 114; SS18.104.22.168, p. 115; SS22.214.171.124, p. 142; SS5.6.1, Resistance and abolition, p. 145; SS126.96.36.199, p. 145; SS5.6.4, Reconstruction, p. 149; SS188.8.131.52, p. 162; SS184.108.40.206, p. 165; SS220.127.116.11, p. 166; Topic 5, p. 262; SSHSUSI.4.1, Relationships between the United States Constitution and women, enslaved people, free Blacks, Indigenous peoples, non-propertied men, and others, p. 283; Topic 5, p. 287; SSHSUSI.5.5, Expansion of slavery and the lives of enslaved people during the first half of the nineteenth century, p. 292; SSHSUSII.8.2.3, p. 353; SSHSUSII.8.4, Ideologies, goals, and tactics of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and their evolution in the 1960s, p. 355.
110 Topic 2, p. 197; Topic 7, p. 198; Topic 2, p. 202; SS18.104.22.168, p. 214; SS22.214.171.124, p. 214; SS126.96.36.199, p. 219; Topic 7, p. 220; SS188.8.131.52, p. 220; SSHSCVC.3.4, The difference between civil rights and civil liberties and the struggles to achieve them, p. 238; SSHSCVC.7.1, Legal basis of dissent and protest, p. 255.
111 SS184.108.40.206, p. 214.
112 SS220.127.116.11, p. 214.
113 E.g., SS1.4.1, p. 44; SS18.104.22.168, p. 200; SS8.5.1, Rights of a citizen, p. 214.
114 SSK.2.2, Classroom Citizenship, p. 19.
115 SS1.4.1, p. 44.
116 Compelling Question, p. 54; SS2.4.1, p. 67; SS22.214.171.124, p. 67; Topic 8, p. 224; Strand 3, p. 224; SSHSCVC.8.3, The concept of “global citizenship”, p. 260.
117 E.g., “Ways people work together to resolve global issues such as climate change, wars, disease.” SS126.96.36.199, p. 67.
118 SS8.4.3, Tribal governments, pp. 211-12; SS188.8.131.52, p. 212; SSHSCVC.4.5, The three branches of government in state, local, and tribal governments, p. 244.
119 SSHSWRLDII.4.3, Imperialism, expansion, and influence, p. 438.
120 SS184.108.40.206, p. 71.
121 SS220.127.116.11, p. 71.
122 SS18.104.22.168, p. 206.
123 SSHSUSI.1.4.4, p. 267.
124 SS22.214.171.124, p. 111.
125 SSHSUSI.1.6.1, pp. 269-70.
126 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-93-1, Holocaust and Genocide Education in Secondary Schools. Legislative findings, http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-93/16-93-1.htm.
127 SS6.1.2, Expansion, p. 154.
128 SSHSCVC.8.2, The role the United States plays in securing human rights, pp. 258-59.
129 SSHSCVC.8.2.3, p. 259.
130 SSHSUSI.1.5, The impact of European arrival in North America on Indigenous life, p. 268.
131 SSHSWRLDII.2.4.6, p. 428.
132 SSK.2.1.1, p. 18.
133 SS126.96.36.199, p. 46.
134 SS188.8.131.52, p. 63.
135 SS184.108.40.206, p. 164.
136 SSK.1.1.1, p. 13.
137 SS6.1.2, Expansion, p. 154.
138 SSHSWRLDII.1.1.1, p. 421.
139 SS220.127.116.11, pp. 189-90; SSHSWRLDI.4.1.4, p. 393.
140 SSHSUSII.4.4.1-4, p. 337.
141 Electoral Integrity, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_integrity; SSHSCVC.6.1, Different kinds of voting systems and their role in government, p. 251; SSHSCVC.6.1.3, p. 251.
142 Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and for Citizens' Action, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_for_the_Taxation_of_Financial_Transactions_and_for_Citizens%27_Action; SSHSWRLDII.7.4.1, p. 452.
143 Stanley Kurtz, “‘Action Civics’ Replaces Citizenship with Partisanship,” The American Mind, January 16, 2021, https://americanmind.org/memo/action-civics-replaces-citizenship-with-partisanship/; Thomas K. Lindsay and Lucy Meckler, “Action Civics,” “New Civics,” “Civic Engagement,” and “Project-Based Civics”: Advances in Civic Education? (Texas Public Policy Foundation, 2020), https://www.texaspolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Lindsay-Meckler-Action-Civics.pdf.
144 SS18.104.22.168, p. 49
145 SS22.214.171.124, p. 67
146 SS126.96.36.199, p. 173
147 SSHSCVC.8.3.2, p. 260
148 SS1.4.2, p. 45
149 2021 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies (Commissioner Approved Draft), Minnesota Department of Education, https://education.mn.gov/mdeprod/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&dDocName=PROD070539&RevisionSelectionMethod=latestReleased&Rendition=primary.
150 American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards, p. 18, https://civicsalliance.org/american-birthright/; Louisiana Student Standards Social Studies, Louisiana Department of Education, https://www.louisianabelieves.com/docs/default-source/academic-standards/02-08-2022---draft-louisiana-social-studies-standards.pdf?sfvrsn=52de6518_14; South Dakota Social Studies Standards Proposed 8/15/22, South Dakota Department of Education, https://doe.sd.gov/ContentStandards/documents/SS-Proposed.pdf; History and Social Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools January 2023 [proposed], Virginia Department of Education, https://www.doe.virginia.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/40670/638085928084070000.
151 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-2. Civics education. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-2.htm.
152 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-28. Instruction in media literacy. http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-28.htm.
153 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-30. Statewide academic standards. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-30.htm.
154 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-31. Curriculum frameworks. http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-31.htm.
155 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-32. High quality curriculum and materials. http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-32.htm.
156 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-33. Curriculum implementation accountability. http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-33.htm.
157 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-36. Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history study. http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/Statutes/TITLE16/16-22/16-22-36.htm.
158 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-93. Holocaust and Genocide Education in Secondary Schools. http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/Statutes/TITLE16/16-93/INDEX.htm.
159 R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-110. African American History Education in Elementary and Secondary School. http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/Statutes/TITLE16/16-110/INDEX.htm.
160 Model K-12 Civics Code, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-k-12-civics-code/.
161 Partisanship Out of Civics Act, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-k-12-civics-code/partisanship-out-of-civics-act/.
162 Schools Nondiscrimination Act, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-k-12-civics-code/schools-nondiscrimination-act/.
163 Values Assessment Act, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-k-12-civics-code/values-assessment-act/.
164 Legislative Review Act, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-k-12-civics-code/legislative-review-act/.
165 Social Studies Curriculum Act, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-palm-card/social-studies-curriculum-act/.
166 Civics Course Act, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-k-12-civics-code/civics-course-act/.
167 United States History Act, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-k-12-civics-code/united-states-history-act/.
168 Western Civilization Act, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-k-12-civics-code/western-civilization-act/.
169 Historical Documents Act, Civics Alliance, https://civicsalliance.org/model-k-12-civics-code/historical-documents-act/.
170 1776 Unites, https://1776unites.com/; 1776 Unites Curriculum, 1776 Unites, https://1776unites.com/our-work/curriculum/.
171 E.g., Kentucky Revised Statutes 158.196 Instructional materials standards and concepts -- Documents and speeches to be included. https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/statutes/statute.aspx?id=53057&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.