The Thomas B. Fordham Institute issued a State of the State report on U.S. History standards. They give Iowa an F along with 28 other states that got Ds or Fs. South Carolina was the only state to receive an A.
About Iowa’s Core Curriculum they note in their evaluation:
“The history component of social studies,” Iowa’s core curriculum document declares, aims to “build upon a foundation of historical knowledge,” in order to “describe the relationship between historical facts, concepts, and generalizations. History draws upon cause and effect relationships within multiple social narratives to help explain complex human interactions. Understanding the past provides context for the present and implications for the future.”
If, however, Diogenes searched with his lamp through the Iowa standards for an honest attempt to create this substantive “foundation” he would discover a startling fact: There is no history whatsoever in the Iowa “core curriculum.”
Instead, the state offers little more than a series of vapid social studies concepts and skills. Students are expected to understand these concepts without having to bother with historical information…
…The so-called “core curriculum” contains neither core nor curriculum. No subject matter is clearly assigned to any grade, resulting in no measurable grade-specific levels of substance and/or rigor. The standards do not even make a meaningful distinction among American, world, and other histories. As a result, there is no Iowa U.S. history curriculum to assess—or indeed any historical curriculum at all—and the state’s standards cannot be awarded more than a zero out of seven for Content and Rigor.
Ouch. This complements what American Principles Project found in their Innocence Report on the Iowa Core Curriculum. In the executive summary they wrote:
The Political Science and Civic Literacy Core Curriculum omits some key concepts and incorrectly or ambiguously describes others. It suggests an ascendency of governments that do not reflect the founding documents and law of the United States. Its discussion of “rights” ignores the natural law basis of our fundamental rights and consequently fails to present them in the strength with which the American law and tradition holds them. Moreover, the directive to discuss the Bill of Rights shows no awareness of the need for guidance in discussion of controversial topics like privacy rights, gun ownership, free speech, and the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses. These opportunities for political bias continue in the examination of America’s role in global affairs…
…The History Curriculum has similar problems of relativism and openings for bias. With little discussion as to scope or basic historical literacy, it instead focuses on analysis of culture, process, and transition. Its directives to compare “minority” and “dominant” groups are a political minefield. (emphasis mine)
Where we are headed as a state and nation has much to do (among other problems) with a lack of knowledge about our past. Iowa is not positioned currently to improve upon the current historical illiteracy prevalent with our state’s public school student population.
Originally posted at American Principles in Action.