Friday, June 14, 2013

Oklahoma History Standards Could Very Well Be Common Core History Standards



For the most part, the Oklahoma media has been squarely in the Common Core camp through editorials that often blast dissenters as Tin Foil Hat Wearing Conspiracy Theorists.  Ok.  Name calling may be the only way to sell those papers, I'm not sure, but that doesn't make us any less RIGHT on the issue of Common Core.

In fact, I think it important to point out here that it appears Superintendent Barresi has been untruthful with Oklahomans and certainly Republicans, because I believe it speaks to the issue of credibility of Dr. Barresi and other Common Core supporters.

Dr. Barresi has told Oklahomans over and over and over that Oklahoma would NOT be adopting the Common Core State Standards in History and Science.  On the very conspiratorial website www2.ed.gov, I found Oklahoma's addendumto their original Race To The Top application.   

Page 7 of this application has a letter from Governor Henry sent to the FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION saying that Oklahoma, through an emergency rules process, DID adopt the Common Core English/Language Arts and Math Standards, as well as Social Studies and Science as of July, 2010! 

210:15-4-3. Adoption and implementation.
(a) The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science, and Mathematics shall be adopted and implemented as follows:
(1) Effective immediately, the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science, and Mathematics are adopted by the State of Oklahoma;
(2) Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, the school districts of the state shall develop and begin implementing a plan for transitioning from the Priority Academic Student Skills to full implementation of the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science, and Mathematics as described in (b) of this rule by the 2014-2015 school year or the school year in which common assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards will be available, whichever is later;
(3) Beginning with FY 2011, the Oklahoma State Department of Education shall pursue participation in consortia of states, as appropriate, to develop common assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards; and
(4) The Priority Academic Student Skills shall remain as the assessed standards until such time that full implementation of the Common Core State Standards are required and common assessments aligned to those standards are available.
Dr. Barresi has made quite a public show (the most recent at a meeting of OCPAC May 15th where she waxed so fondly of Oklahoma's social studies standards being Oklahoman I thought she would cry) of having David Barton come out and sit in on the gathering of social studies teachers assembled to write Oklahoma's 'new' social studies standards (DavidBarton did not agree with her assessment).   I have read the new social studies standards and commentedon them.  They DEFINITELY contain the Common Core English/LA standards which have trimmed down the actual history students will learn.

It is certain that Dr. Barresi gathered input from Oklahomans for the History standards.  But how much of this input was used to formulate these standards and how much was simply 'lip service' to placate teachers/taxpayers?  It certainly does appear that the new Social Studies/History Standards for Oklahoma follow those outlined in the RTT agreement with the federal Department of Education.

Again, according to Oklahoma’s Race to the Top addendum: 
(b) By the 2014-2015 school year or the school year in which common assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards will be available, whichever is later, the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science, and Mathematics shall be fully implemented by replacing or being added to the Priority Academic Student Skills as follows
(1) English Language Arts for grades K-12 shall replace the Priority Academic Student Skills in Language Arts for grades K-12 with the provision that the State Board of Education reserves the right to add up to 15 percent additional standards to the Common Core State Standards as appropriate;
(2) Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science for grades 6-12 shall be added to the Priority Academic Student Skills in:
(A) World studies for grade 6, world geography for grade 7, and United States History 1760-1877 for grade 8;
(B) Economics for high school, Oklahoma history for high school, United States government for high school, United States History 1850 to the Present for high school, world geography for high school, and World History for high school;
(C) Inquiry, physical, life, and earth/space science for grades 6-8; and
(D) Biology I, Chemistry, and Physics
Please, go to the History/Social Studies standards.  You can also find them through the main Oklahoma C3 standards page 

Interestingly, these also correspond nearly exactly to the C3 Standards produced by the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Though not found at this link, the standards themselves can be found here.  Please note the agreement of one central theme between both sets of standards.  Both indicate that America is a Constitutional Democracy instead of a Constitutional Republic.  It is also important to note that the Oklahoma document is arranged in the same manner as the C3 standards and that our department calls these standards also C3.

Compare these standards by going to Oklahoma’s RTT Addendum opening it and opening Oklahoma’s History/Social Studies Standards and comparing them side by side.  Does Oklahoma’s document NOT follow the addendum nearly* exactly? 

  • Page 38 of Grade 6 says, "Literacy Skills Standard 2: The student will develop and demonstrate Common Core Social Studies writing literacy skills" and "Grade 6 WORLD GEOGRAPHY".
  • Page 42 of Grade 7 says, "Grade 7 WORLD GEOGRAPHY"
  • Page 46 of Grade 8 says, "Grade 8 UNITED STATES HISTORY"
  • Page 51 of High School says, "High School ECONOMICS"
  • Page 55 of High School says, "High School OKLAHOMA HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT"
  • Page 67 of High School says, "High School UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT"
  • Page 78 "High School WORLD HISTORY" 
  • Page 82 "High School WORLD HUMAN GEOGRAPHY"

*I say ‘nearly’ exactly because Oklahoma has added Psychology (pg 59) and Sociology (pg 63) to our History Standards.  This must represent the 15% over the written Common Core State Standards we're allowed to use under the RTT grant (Pg 12).

Of course there is nothing controversial introduced in Psychology and/or Sociology.  In fact, why are these not separate courses OUTSIDE History/Social Studies Standards?  When I was in high school in the 70's/80's, I had Oklahoma History, US History and Psychology as a separate class.  Sociology was never brought into the mix.

Wikipedia explains the foci of sociology as including:
social stratification, social class, culture, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, social mobility, religion, secularization, law, and deviance.
As a parent, I'm uncomfortable with the thought of my kids being taught many of these in public school because so many can be politicized in a manner not akin to our family's world view.

Other issues of concern surround quotes from several historical figures placed into the standards document itself, such as this one on page 66, 
“Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand” by Karl Marx   
- and this quote on page 62, 
“Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy” by Sigmund Freud.  
Why pick two of the most controversial people in history from which to use quotes?

There is also the issue that Oklahoma's HistoryStandards cite the Southern Poverty Law Center, as one of its supporting documents on page 96 and the fact that the document refers to America as a Constitutional Democracy onpage 11.

Unless there is some document of which we are unaware that nullifies Governor Henry's edict, Oklahoma already HAS Common Core State Standards for History.  Then again, even with the discovery of such a document, this examination of the standards doesn't lend itself to such an interpretation.  It certainly appears that Dr. Barresi either has not been forthcoming with the truth on the issue, or is so incompetent as to not be privy to law created by the previous administration.  Neither answer seems palatable to us.

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