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History Reimagined

In 2021, concern was raised about the Idaho K-12 Civics and U.S. History standards, adopted in 2016. “Lack of specificity is both cause and consequence of a more general lack of rigor” (whatever that means). However, “Enormously broad injunctions and thin, disjointed, thematically scattered content” does describe one defect of these standards. In December, 2023, a committee was formed to revise the social studies standards in which the history standards are included.

Content standards are used “to establish some consistency in academic content statewide”, determine what a student should know by the end of a particular grade, and to some degree what should be taught. This PDF is the Idaho Content Standards for Social Studies that outlines what is being taught in civics and history. 

Social studies is broken down into 5 categories: History, Geography, Economics, Civics & Government, and Global Perspectives. Within each category are goals that each grade must meet, K-12. The knowledge base gradually builds over the course of grades attended. Everyone is encouraged to carefully read through these standards for the specifics and determine their own perspective, but this general overview provides an understanding of what is really being taught from a very early age about American history and government. To understand why youth today have no understanding of America’s history, and the significance of our country, reviewing the current standards might provide some insight as to why. 

Grades K-5

Grades K-5 have standards that appear to lead children towards believing in collectivism, being part of a global world, and government entitlements. Starting in kindergarten, over the course of these grades, the student appears to be progressively taught concepts that are the antithesis of America and being American. Some of these concepts taught in the categories are:

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History: “basic rights” of individual freedoms; evolution of democracy; how the “interpretation and application of the United States Constitution has evolved”; sharing information of families and their culture, individual similarities and differences; all people have needs and wants, some with limited resources; family traditions that came to America from other parts of the world; basic needs of people, such as food, clothing, and shelter, and things that people may want but do not need; how individuals and groups make decisions and solve problems, such as voting and consensus; to understand multiple perspectives and global interdependence while comparing life in other parts of the world, and family structures in various cultures around the world; a national identity is shared through patriotic symbols and holidays; difference between public and private property; contributions from other parts of the world to the development of the community; different cultural groups are compared in the community and the influence of that culture on lives; roles and relationships of diverse groups of people from various parts of the world who have contributed to Idaho’s cultural heritage and impacted the state’s history; challenges experienced by people from various cultural, racial, and religious groups that settled in Idaho from various parts of the world; meaning of tribal sovereignty; diversity within Idaho’s American Indian tribes; dispel misconceptions about American Indians today; awareness of the shared experiences of indigenous populations in the world; reservations are lands reserved by the tribes for their own use through treaties or executive orders and were not “given” to them; people and groups who make, apply, and enforce laws within…tribal governments; classmates’ ancestors and where they immigrated from, with further discussions on migration and immigration, and why people immigrate; individuals becoming citizens and distinguish among obligations, responsibilities, and rights.

Geography: basic geography is taught and how humans depend on the environment to meet their basic needs.

Economics: identify wants and needs of families; define income and identify different ways to earn and save; the differences between goods and services, producers and consumers; concepts of supply and demand and scarcity; the purpose of a bank; concepts of personal finance; how basic needs of settlers were met; entrepreneurship and reasons for starting a business; Idaho’s role in the global economy; laws that provide benefits; economic rights.

Civics & Government: community services are provided by the government; Tribal governments and its government structure; Tribal seals and federally recognized Tribes in Idaho; conflicts between liberty and equality, individual interests and the common good, and majority rule and “minority protections”; role of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin on the development of individual rights and political rights; distributed and shared powers between national and state governments; decisions are made by consensus; Idaho Treaties and the effect of federal policies on Tribes, along with comparisons between Tribes, and Tribal relations with government; colonization of Tribal lands and treaties; basic functions of state, local, and tribal governments, the governmental relationships between state, local, and tribal governments and governing structure of American Indian tribes in Idaho; Idaho reservations.

Global Perspective: connections with other communities in the world; contributions from other parts of the world to the development of the community; awareness of the shared experiences of indigenous populations in the world; comparison of neighborhoods and communities with others in various parts of the world; different cultural groups are compared in the community and the influence of that culture on lives.

In K-5 some information is taught about the Pledge of Allegiance and other patriotic symbols. Holidays and the reason for them, and basics on rules and why we have laws is taught. Other than the cultural impact in the development of America there is no mention of Christopher Columbus or the pilgrims, or why they came, however, how the 13 original colonies contributed to the founding of the nation is taught. There is no identified American traditions or values, they all originated from other countries or cultures. In fact, the concept of being American isn’t clearly in the standards. 

There is no mention of teaching about American currency. The differences between people, traditions, income, and lifestyles are laid out early to reinforce differences rather than bonds of being an American, and instead being a citizen of the world. Individualism didn’t appear in any of the standards but the concepts of citizenship, popular sovereignty, respect for the individual, equality of opportunity, and personal liberty are taught. 

Basic Idaho history doesn’t appear to be introduced such as the initial explorers or the government structure of the state, counties, and cities, but the basic functions of state government is explained. The “concepts” of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, “basic principles” of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights are taught, along with majority rule with “minority rights”. It isn’t clear that the understanding of Rule of Law that equally protects everyone appears anywhere.

So it is with this basic foundation that moves the student to 6-12 grades. 

Grades 6-9

History is separated out into the Western Hemisphere and Eastern Hemisphere in grades 6-9 where students are taught an “understanding of the cultural and social development of human civilization”; the consequences of human impact on the physical environment; cultural patterns; pollution, and deforestation; different routes from colonial rule to independence taken by countries in the Western Hemisphere; ethnocentrism; benefits of global connections; indigenous cultures, European colonization, and spread of major religions. The standard of living of various countries and current economic issues in the countries are taught. Major forms of government are compared with the United States.

Grades 6-9 — World History & Civilization

Concurrently, grades 6-9 are taught world history. Many concepts are repeats from previous grades.

History: characteristics of early civilizations; technological advances; origins and characteristics of different social classes; how the structure of family changes in relation to socioeconomic conditions; why different religious beliefs were sources of conflict.

Geography: reasons for major migrations of people; how the resources of an area can be the source of conflict between competing groups; how the population growth rate impacts a nation’s resources; how rapid growth of cities can lead to economic, social, and political problems; how the conservation of resources is necessary to maintain a healthy environment.

Economics: how people historically have relied on their natural resources to meet their needs; how economic opportunity and a higher standard of living are important factors in the migration of people; important economic organizations that have influenced economic growth.

Civics and Government: role of government in population movements; political influences which shaped civilizations including the City-State, Monarchy, Republic, Nation-State, and Democracy; global expansion of liberty and democracy through revolution and reform movements in challenging authoritarian or despotic regimes

Global Perspectives: absence of effective means to enforce international law; global consequences of major conflicts such as World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, and Cold War; why peoples unite for political, economic, and

humanitarian reasons.

Grades 6-12 — U.S. History I

In addition, the student also studies U.S. History from grades 6-12 separated out into History I and II courses.

History: concepts in cultures prior to “European contact”; the different cultural, religious, and social influences in the “North American” colonies; culturally & racially group experiences prior to the Civil War; causes and effects of compromises and conflicts in American Revolution, Civil War and Reconstruction; motives for and the consequences of slavery and involuntary immigration; concept of Manifest Destiny and its impact on American Indians; removal, reservations, and allotment that impacted American Indians historically and currently; common traits, beliefs, and characteristics that unite the United States as a nation and a society.

Geography: Pre-Columbian migration and impact of the Columbian exchange; impact termination practices such as removal policies, boarding schools, and forced assimilation had on American Indians.

Economics: emergence and evolution of a market economy; role of government policy and role of financial institutions in the early economic development of the United States.

Civics & Government: development of our constitutional republic through founding documents, colonial assemblies, and colonial rebellions; fundamental values and principles as expressed in basic documents, including the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution; fundamental values and principles in conflict, such as between liberty and equality, individual interests and the common good, and majority rule and minority protections; how executive, legislative, and judicial powers are distributed and shared among the three branches of government and why powers are distributed and shared between national and state governments in a federal system; role of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin on the development of individual rights and political rights.

Global Perspectives: significance of principle policies and events in the United States’ relations with the world, such as the War of 1812, the Monroe Doctrine, the Mexican-American War, and Spanish-American War;

Grades 9-12 — U.S. History II

History: how diverse cultures have enriched American society; significant movements for social change; motives for continued immigration to the United States; political and social resistance to immigration; impact of forced assimilation on identity of American Indians; emergence of the American labor movement; causes of the Great Depression; shift from the industrial to the technological society at the end of the 20th century.

Economics: emergence of the modern corporation; development of a consumer economy; role of the modern United States in the global economy.

Civics and Government: relationship between the three federal branches of government; impact of landmark cases, Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; development and expansion of political, civil, and economic rights.

Global Perspectives: competing belief systems including capitalism, communism, imperialism, totalitarianism, isolationism, and internationalism; significance of principal events in relations with the world, such as the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the formation of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan, NATO, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the end of the Cold War, and interventions in Latin America and the Middle East;

Grades 9-12 — American Government

History: understanding of the cultural and social development of the United States; historical milestones that led to the creation of limited government such as the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, state constitutions and charters, United States Constitution, Bill of Rights.

Geography: impact of geography on the American political system, such as electoral politics and congressional redistricting.

Economics: economic impact of government policy; different economic systems and relate each to different forms of government.

Civics and Government: origins of constitutional law in western civilization, including the natural rights philosophy, Magna Carta, common law, and the Bill of Rights in England; philosophies, ideals, and objectives of the foundational documents of the United States; central principles of the United States governmental system and relationships among federal, state, local, and tribal governments; development and role of political parties; role of other political organizations; ways in which individuals become citizens and distinguish among obligations, responsibilities, and rights; the changing relationship among the branches of American government; how interpretation and application of the United States Constitution has evolved.

Global Perspectives: mutual impact of ideas, issues, and policies among nations, including environmental, economic, and humanitarian; evaluate the role of the United States in international organizations and agreements.

In History I & II, and American History, is Consent of the Governed even taught? 

Once a draft is completed the revised standards will be available to the public for comment. If there were ever a time to become involved, it will be when this draft is released. When the draft is released, look them over and have your recommendations ready for submission during the comment period. The final draft will be presented to the legislature in 2025. This is really a leftover of Common Core.

For any questions contact:
Director of Content and Curriculum
(208) 332-6876
mwonderlich@sde.idaho.gov

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2 replies on “History Reimagined”

Good job Karen and comprehensive as usual. Now we know what the intent is and only have to identify the actual texts to view what they are actually teaching about the subjects.

As usual, thank you Karen. Simply examining the pdf I find no mention of slavery existing between the various indigenous peoples of this continent. Having been blessed with opportunities to work all across this nation and several other countries, it is apparent to me that every ethnic, racial, or social identity of people regards itself as “superior.” That will not change, so why try to hide it?

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