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A free framework for social studies education

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For decades, the American education system has failed in its obligation to give students a foundational understanding of social studies. Weak learning standards were established, primary documents were ignored, and students were allowed to create their own historical truths.

As a result, only 12% of American high school seniors are familiar with American history. This is a totally unacceptable statistic. We can and must do better for our students.

In Louisiana, where I am state superintendent of education, we are disrupting the status quo. Last year we adopted new K-12 social studies standards. This is the story of America’s greatness and its journey to becoming a more perfect union.

Our new standards were built on a framework of freedoms that reflected the ensemble of events that made America so special. , illuminate the path to freedom for America as one of struggle and sacrifice.

From start to finish, the standards revision process was emotionally sensitive and politically flammable, with intense debate about what should and should not be taught in the classroom. To navigate this volatile political climate, our team, I believe, will help others overcome obstacles to create stronger policies and practices for a truly American education. We adopted several strategies.

Prioritize feedback

One thing that hasn’t changed has been our willingness to truly embrace engagement. The Louisiana citizen’s feedback served as a solid reminder and example of how special Americans are. Far too often, the voices of communities, parents and even students are silenced rather than raised. We vowed not to. Criticism was painful at times, but it was necessary.

accept conflict

If we believe that our children deserve a quality education, we must have the courage to face conflicting issues. It takes the proverbial thick skin. Some people have tried to label me and our agency with respect to our jobs and titles. I knew our children deserved better standards. Leadership requires leadership.

pursue a purpose

At times the process felt impossible. Still, we knew it would be worth the effort. This improves the quality of children and improves outcomes. We basically believed that increasing the rigor of our academic standards and telling the story of our country’s history in a coherent way was both a good thing and a right thing to do.


We have set an initial timeline for the standards revision process, including final submission dates to state boards of education and legislatures. I changed that date many times. This was due to the global pandemic, the drafting committee’s request for more time, the extended public comment period, political pressure, and the need for our team to research and write. It’s because If I had been married to the first timeline, I would have failed. Having the right standards was far more important than meeting arbitrary timelines.

avoid ambiguity

This was not a seamless journey. In fact, it was a winding road made even more complicated by social pressures. Over the course of a year, a drafting committee worked on the new standard. The committee has done a valuable job. However, the draft they produced received overwhelmingly negative public feedback, and eventually had to be reviewed by the Department of Education at the request of the State Board of Education. In my opinion, many of these criticisms relate to the commission’s heavy reliance on broad and vague standards, in which critical racial theories and behavioral citizens are deeply embedded. It may look simple, but ambiguity should be avoided. The standard should state what it means and indicate what it means.

pluralism prevails

America will continue to be a shining city on a hill, while at the same time believing it recognizes our struggle towards a more perfect union. created on purpose. This has given rise to allegations that we are improperly elevating the status of the nation. Standards should ensure that multiple perspectives are taken into account and capture the nuances of people, places and papers.

don’t apologize

For too long, students have been taught to apologize for American exceptionalism. Instead, we must teach our students the triumphs of our nation and the immeasurable sacrifices made by those who came before us. We must teach the fragility of freedom. We must teach our students to understand the dignity of this country and their duty as citizens to uphold the founding principles of America.

As time went on, the American education system went astray. The system prioritized embracing radical philosophies over implementing rigid social studies standards. This educational negligence is no longer acceptable in the United States.

Across the nation, we must be committed to teaching our children the story of American freedom and restoring excellence in history and civics classes. Students must have the knowledge and skills to protect, maintain and improve