September 1, 2020
In a time of civil unrest, when people are scrutinizing America’s history more than ever, we should ask: Are Utah social studies standards doing their job?
And just what is the job of state standards? Standards (created at the state level) are meant to guide educators in choosing curriculum (chosen at the local level) and employing pedagogy during their day-to-day interactions as teachers.
As for social studies standards specifically, their job is to guide teachers in helping students fulfill their role as citizens in the American republic. This includes understanding free speech in a pluralistic society, comprehending the purposes and realities of a free press, defending the role of religious freedom privately and publicly, grasping the protections of due process, and understanding other fundamental principles as they are lived out today.
Helping students fulfill the lofty goal of continuing the American republic is a tall order. It requires the participation of parents and the expertise of educators, and it also requires the diligence of policymakers to create state standards that are sufficient guideposts.
State academic standards are created by the Utah State Board of Education, or USBE. Periodically, they are reviewed and revised in a public process – something that is taking place for the social studies standards right now.
Which is why it is so important people are aware of standards – so they can see where the standards are doing a good job, and where they fall short.
At the heart of Sutherland’s research series are two questions:
(1) Are the Utah standards for social studies sufficient academic guideposts for educators?
(2) Do Utah standards for social studies help students fulfill their duties in civil society and government?
We will dissect these questions in a series that looks at the current standards and how well they address the following non-exhaustive list of American freedoms: free speech, freedom of the press, religious liberty, due process, equality before the law, and checks and balances.
If you’d like us to look at how the Utah State Social Standards prepare students in light of other fundamental concepts, rights or responsibilities, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National attention on the state of civics and history knowledge is surging – and it can help states improve civics and history education.
“Americans know we need real change. You want to be in charge of your health care without asking Washington politicians or health insurance bureaucrats for permission.”
“We have a crisis in civic education that can no longer be ignored….It is really a crisis of understanding and devotion. Too many young people do not understand the principles of our Founding or see America’s history as the story of our struggle to live up to those principles of freedom.”