Dear Social Studies teacher…

Dear Social Studies teacher,

Do your kids “think like a historian?”

You have kids examine primary sources, you ask them “Who wrote this? What is the author’s viewpoint? Why was it written? What is their bias? Their connections? Is this source believable ”  You teach them about the world’s great protagonists, the rebels, the people who have made a difference.   In class you don’t just espouse the ideas that you read about in a secondary source, you look for the primary sources they are based on., and you notice if every primary source you find in support has the same authors or comes from the same narrow perspective and financial backing.

You teach about the Federalists vs the Anti-Federalists.

State’s rights.

The 10th Amendment.

German propaganda.

The Robber barons.

Your kids know what really happened at “Thanksgiving,” and on the plains as the settlers moved west.

American Revolution’s patriots fighting against tyranny come alive in your class, and maybe the Zinnists amongst you even let the kids know that there is a whole ‘nother side to the American Revolution that is not covered in the textbooks.

Your kids leave you at the end of the year thinking like historians.
Maybe it is time that you start.

Are you thinking like a historian when you just accept the Common Core State Standards?  Have you held yourself accountable to the same exact standards of historical inquiry that you hold your kids too?
Please do what you ask you kids to do.  Act like a historian and take some time to look at the CCSS as you would any other primary source document.

I have an old newspaper clipping from 1924 about the federal government’s role in education that finishes with:

It is not the governments business to tell the people what to think, nor to marshal the people’s thoughts this way or that.  
It is the government’s business to be guided by what the people are thinking.

Dear Social Studies teacher, I would hope that if anyone would stand up to being pawns of the federal government and its millionaire vultures, it would be you.  Is it really ok for a small group of investors to control the education of every child in our country?

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  1. I must say that this post pretty much sums up much of what is wrong with public education today. First of all, your assumption that education is controlled by “millionaire vultures in Washington”‘is true, to a degree, but certainly not in the way you intend. The elite who unfortunately drive the educational agenda can be found in our schools of education (probably the worst thing to happen to public education since the industrial revolution), in the law firms and corporations who feast on a symbiotic relationship with the government and provide no real productive benefit to society. These enterprise tend to be populated by the liberal elite who,by the way, send their children to private schools. Have the Obama girls ever seen the inside of a public school? Secondly, the tendency towards historiography rather than the clear and objective examination of historical events and their context is opening the door to a “1984” approach to the study of history where events are deemed worthy of study not as a result of their overall historical significance but,rather, how well they advance a class struggle/oppression view of history which, ultimately, glorifies the victim du jour and downplays the contributions of great men. Is it any wonder why we are becoming a nation of victims? The AP United States History test is being completely redesigned. It will no longer, for the most part, test a student’s depth of knowledge about the primary themes in our glorious past, but rather, will primarily be an examination of how well a student can regurgitate politically correct interpretations of the past. Sadly, your approach to the study of history is in the ascendency. The CCSS is a mild attempt to reassert some quality control over our discipline but is doomed to fail in the face of organized opposition by the education elite. I find it somewhat ironic that a group of people who constantly profess to be radicals and non-conformists pretty much strictly tow the party line when it comes to these matters.

    1. Paul–the “elite” that you refer to in the ed schools are just feeding off the scraps of the super elite outside of the schools. When I look at what is being studied at out state university is simply because the professors there take from the pockets of people who are pushing a product. No one is going to research the value of a play based kindergarten because they would have nothing to sell…no research dollars would follow that. But hold on! There is Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) one of the research based initiative approved under NCLB. YOu can get $$ to research that, and then you can write a book, and then you can sell schools training and all sorts of stuff. Crazy…

      1. So the fact that many education schools have incorporated the works of unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers into their curriculum is the result of funding priorities created by NCLB?

        1. Would not necessarily say the works of Ayers, but there are always provisions built into huge bills that are overlooked because they are included with something else the media is covering. Next post is about one that was included in the big stimulus packages.

  2. I’ll never forget the day my daughter asked me about school districts, she is twelve and heard it in conversations about voting and money and on the news. When I explained it to her she said “It sounds a lot like the “districts” from The Hunger Games.

    Freaked me out.

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