Young people nowadays tend to be poised, sociable, and reasonably articulate. That’s good. On the other hand, they also tend to be shockingly ignorant. For the most part, they simply don’t know much about science, economics, literature, and above all, about history. Contemporary education indulges endless expressions of opinion, as long as those opinions are consistent with the schools’ political agenda. But opinions–above all, the opinions of teenagers–are worthless unless they are based on fact.
These observations are prompted by South Dakota’s effort to implement new standards for social studies education. Social studies standards have become a battleground across the U.S.; regular readers may remember that my organization has been battling for the last two years against an attempted revision of Minnesota’s standards that would turn social studies into lessons in critical race theory, a poisonous blend of racism and anti-Americanism.
So what is happening in South Dakota? A long process to update that state’s social studies standards is nearing completion. It has been contentious, as our country’s past has become a battleground. Who controls the past controls the future, as someone once said, so leftists are determined to commandeer America’s history and twist it to their own malicious ends. In South Dakota, some are standing in their way.
The process actually began several years ago, but fell into the hands of the Left:
That could mean bringing together representatives from the current standards workgroup and the 2021 standards workgroup, a larger panel made up entirely of educators whose proposal was discarded by Gov. Kristi Noem, who at the time wrote she wanted to see standards that “accurately reflect the values of South Dakota.”
Reflect our values, yes, but more important, can we get our facts straight? The current draft standards focus on teaching children facts, not soliciting their uninformed opinions:
Critics, many of them educators, criticize the standards as age-inappropriate, throwing waves of names and dates at children too young to digest them; those in favor argue nearly the exact opposite, that facts are the precursor to analysis, saying South Dakota’s children have the ability to meet a supposedly raised bar.
“Facts are the precursor to analysis.” Hallelujah! Wouldn’t it be great if our kids actually knew something?
Professional educators are campaigning against the proposed standards. No wonder, since in the absence of facts there is no obstacle to left-wing indoctrination. But saner heads like them:
[Ben Jones, a former secretary of education and current head of the South Dakota State Historical Society] says this litany of facts in early grades especially is a feature of the standards, pointing to a letter from the National Association of Scholars and the Civics Alliance in January calling the standards “among the best in the nation.”
“The preponderance of scholarship and research indicates that spiraled content and basing standards upon content and knowledge, facts, events, places names, dates, and so forth, is a prerequisite for critical thinking,” he said.
Is that not blindingly obvious? One can only surmise that the last thing left-wing “educators” want is critical thinking. Or a knowledgeable electorate.