The test results are in, and America’s children are failing history and civics.
According to the “Nation’s Report Card,” just 13% of eighth graders are proficient in U.S. history, and only 22% are proficient in civics.
Every four years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress captures how well America’s students are performing in major subjects. The latest scores, released this week, are “the lowest numbers ever recorded for the NAEP scores in civics and in history over the past 25 years,” says Adam Kissel, a visiting fellow in higher education reform at The Heritage Foundation.
Kissel says there is no doubt that school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the learning loss. As for the drop in proficiency in history and civics, he says, “I would guess that after the Black Lives Matter movement got popular in 2020, a lot of teachers changed their curriculum around and taught less of the basics and more activism-type topics, and that might have been a factor as well.”
In response to the troublingly low test scores, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona issued a written statement.
“We need to provide every student with rich opportunities to learn about America’s history and understand the U.S. Constitution and how our system of government works,” Cardona said.
He added: “Banning history books and censoring educators from teaching these important subjects does our students a disservice and will move America in the wrong direction.”
“He’s wrong on both of those points,” Kissel says of President Joe Biden’s education secretary. “His solution is really the opposite of what schools need to do.”
The Heritage scholar notes that Florida provides an example that Cardona should consider:
Florida has high standards for civics and history, and its standards most recently said that textbooks need to be good and teach core history and not teach false information, kind of in the line of critical race theory or diversity, equity, and inclusion textbooks.
So any book that meets the high standards gets in, any book that doesn’t meet the high standards doesn’t get in. And the same thing with curriculum. So if you have a state like Florida that holds a high standard and says only the good textbooks get in, that’s not banning the bad textbooks, that’s just saying the bad textbooks don’t qualify.
Kissel joins this episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast” to explain why America’s kids are floundering in history and civics classes, and to offer practical solutions to repair America’s failing education system.
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