Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Schools' History Standards Should Stress Constitution, Panel Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Schools' History Standards Should Stress Constitution, Panel Says

Article excerpt

National history standards should be rewritten to emphasize the Founding Fathers, the Constitution and America's opportunities, a group of historians and teachers has urged.

The voluntary standards "contained a lot in them that deserved criticism," said Albert Quie, a former Minnesota governor and Republican congressman who led the panel, organized by the private Council for Basic Education.

The voluntary standards also should focus more on American scientific and technological breakthroughs, the panel said Wednesday. And they should drop biased wording and lesson-plan examples that critics said came too close to pushing a national curriculum.

In 1989, President George Bush's administration and the nation's governors - alarmed by declining test scores - proposed encouraging states to have all students meet national academic standards. Since then, many states and schools have adopted math standards.

But the history standards, developed by a University of California at Los Angeles panel under a Bush administration contract, were denounced when they came out last fall. Conservatives said they overstated negative parts of American history, such as the Ku Klux Klan and the 1950s rise of McCarthyism, while neglecting Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.

President Bill Clinton's education secretary, Richard Riley, agreed.

In one section, the independent panel found, the standards call for students to study the religious beliefs of American Indians and blacks in early America but fail to mention the beliefs of European settlers. The group recommends adding that.

"We focused on seeing whether the general underlying statements of principles were sound," said Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, a Harvard University professor and a member of the panel.

The UCLA group said it would review the independent panel's recommendations and work to put out a new edition. …

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