Georgia to Revive the Civil War; State OKs New Social Studies Standards, Bringing Back Mention of Conflict in Texts

Article excerpt

Byline: BRANDON LARRABEE, The Times-Union

ATLANTA -- Students across Georgia will see changes in their social-studies classes when the state's new curriculum takes effect in a few years and a controversial proposal to omit mention of the Civil War has been re-thought.

After months of controversy that included accusations that the Department of Education was gutting high school history standards, the department's board unanimously passed new guidelines Thursday for teaching social studies in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The approval comes as the department works to revamp the standards for all of the state's core courses. The board has already approved English-language arts, science and some pieces of the math curriculum; high school math has yet to come before the board.

Meant to address critiques that the state's standards for social studies and other subjects were "an inch deep and a mile wide," the new rules were meant to streamline the curriculum. But the history standards originally ran into a firestorm of controversy when some teachers questioned the department's decision to remove the Civil War from high school textbooks, instead focusing on American history since then.

The Civil War and earlier time periods were left to elementary school teachers.

Under the document approved by the board Thursday, students will now learn age-appropriate lessons about the entire scope of American history in elementary, middle and high school, according to the department.

The high school world history class has also been updated to include earlier periods of civilization, after an original draft covered only the period from 1500 A.D. to the present.

Educators and those involved in drafting the curriculum hailed the revised blueprint, though some cautioned that funding was still needed to help teachers learn how to convey the material in the classroom.

"We've had many of the best and brightest experts involved in the revision of our state's curriculum, and they should be commended for developing world class standards," Superintendent Kathy Cox, who couldn't attend Thursday's meeting, said later in a statement issued by her office. …