From the Noteworthy column in the September 1995 Perspectives
Council for Basic Education Reviewing National History Standards
AHA Staff, September 1995
The Council for Basic Education (CBE) has established two independent panels to review the National Standards in United States and World History. The review will consider the major criticisms that have been directed at the history standards, as well as the support that has been expressed for them, by historians, teachers, political figures, and members of the public since their publication last fall. Initial funding is being provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is expected from other major national foundations.
"CBE will convene these two panels of respected scholars, practitioners, and citizens," according to Christopher T. Cross, president of the Council. "Their task will be to review the standards, to evaluate their scholarly merit, balance, and feasibility for practitioners, and recommend the types of changes they agree should be incorporated in revised editions of the standards."
"Our goals are to contribute to the continuing work of creating standards for what children should know and be able to do in the history field, to determine what constitutes acceptable balance in the standards, and to define excellence in history standards for elementary and secondary students. In supporting this effort, CBE agrees that standards must continue to be offered as voluntary guidelines for the schools, with the final decisions concerning their use left to the states and local school districts," Cross said.
Albert H. Quie, former governor of Minnesota and former ranking Republican on the Committee on Education and Labor of the U.S. House of Representatives, is chair of the panel on U.S. history. Other members of the U.S. history panel are Cary Carson (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation), Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (Harvard Univ.), David A. Hollinger (Univ. of California at Berkeley), Jeanette R. LaFors (Carlmont High School), Diane Ravitch (New York Univ.), Rex M. Shepard (National Council for Social Studies), Stephan Thernstrom (Harvard Univ.), Reed Ueda (Tufts Univ.), and Maris A. Vinovskis (Univ. of Michigan).
Steven Muller, president emeritus of Johns Hopkins University, is chair of the world history panel. Other world history panelists are Hilary Ainger (United Nations International School), Robert Bain (Beachwood High School), Allison Blakely (Howard Univ.), A. Lee Blitch (AT&T), Philip D. Curtin (Johns Hopkins Univ.), Prasenjit Duara (Univ. of Chicago), Michael F. Jimenez (Univ. of Pittsburgh), Ramsay MacMullen (Yale Univ.), Marjorie Malley (Rogers State Coll.), Joan Wallach Scott (Institute for Advanced Study), and John Obert Voll (Univ. of New Hampshire).
The panels first met in June; their final meeting will take place in October. A report will be issued at that meeting. The history standards were originally funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education as one of a number of projects designed to create nationally developed standards in the core academic subjects. Similar standards have been developed and released in science, the arts, civics, geography, and mathematics. The history standards were developed by the National Center for History in the Schools at the University of California at Los Angeles, and involved the participation of 30 major organizations.
The Council for Basic Education is a nonprofit membership organization devoted to advocacy of an excellent liberal arts education for all children. Founded in 1956, CBE has been an independent, critical voice for education reform. The council supports fellowships for teachers, publishes regularly on educational issues, and assists schools in the development of academic standards. For additional details, contact the Council for Basic Education, 1319 F St., N.W., Washington, DC 20004 1152. (202) 347-4171. Fax (202) 347-5047.