The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday April 1st

Historic shortcomings: Changes in public school history curriculum troubling

The proposed curriculum change for N.C. public schools does not provide the proper history education that students need.

The Department of Public Instruction has proposed that 11th grade United States’ history start with 1877, instead of 1789 when it currently starts. 

The rationale for this proposal is that high school students are not getting enough time to focus on more recent events.

Although topics like the Founding Fathers, U.S. Constitutional theory and American government will be taught in 10th grade, many U.S. events from 1789 to 1877 will be eliminated from the high school curriculum.

To make up for this, the proposal requires students in fourth, fifth and seventh grades to take broader U.S. history courses to cover topics like the Civil War.

However, students in middle school simply don’t have the intellectual capacity to grasp the full meaning of topics like the Civil War and slavery in a historical context.

Understandably, the state wants to ensure that students have in-depth knowledge of 20th century events. But that does not justify eliminating so much of U.S. history from the standard high school curriculum.

While an easy solution might not exist, it’s better to give students a broad overview of the major events in U.S. history than to eliminate them from the curriculum in favor of more in-depth study.

The United States only has several hundred years of history. If high school students in European nations must study history that dates back to the foundation of their countries, then surely high school students here can study the full extent of U.S. history.

This is only the first of possibly several drafts. Still, the N.C. State Board of Education, the board that must first approve the proposal before it moves forward, should be fully aware of the draft’s shortcomings.

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