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Wednesday, August 4th, 2021
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MADISON — Wisconsin has earned an “F” on the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s latest report card on history and civics standards in U.S. schools.

The Badger State is among 20 states to receive an “inadequate” score on the education think tank’s The State of State Standards for Civics and U.S. History evaluation. But Wisconsin joins nine states in receiving a failing grade. The others are: Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Montana, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wyoming.

As Wisconsin schools confront controversial teaching concepts in the Age of Wokeness, history and civics curriculum is being rewritten in the name of far left political activism or the courses are being abandoned altogether.

Educators across the country are pushing the examination of American history and the force of self-governance through the prism of political correctness and polarizing lesson plans.

“It’s little wonder, then, that the tattered condition of civics and U.S. history education constitutes a national crisis,” Fordham notes in a press release accompanying the evaluation. “Various efforts—some wise, some hasty, some dangerous—are underway to repair the situation, but the logical place to start is with what states expect their schools to teach and their children to learn in these two key subjects.”

Four states — Alaska, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Vermont — don’t have U.S. history standards, according to the national report. Half a dozen other states have standards that are “barely detectable.”

“For example, Maine and Wisconsin list eras that students should cover at some point in grades K–12 (e.g., “Meeting of Peoples and Cultures”) but provide no further information beyond the associated date ranges,” the report card notes.

The problem, the report asserts, begins with the law — or lack thereof. Wisconsin is among six states, including neighboring Minnesota, that have ambiguous state statutes, with the result that some districts and/or schools may not actually require the study of civics and/or U.S. history.

“Sadly, far too many young (and not-so-young) Americans have only the haziest grasp of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are essential to informed citizenship, in part because for decades now we have systematically failed to impart them to our children,” wrote the report’s authors.

Only five jurisdictions  — Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia were rated “exemplary” in both subjects. The majority of states received a mediocre or inadequate score.

The report highlights the need to create “rich and balanced civics and U.S. History education” nationwide to end the generational neglect.

“The consequences of that neglect are now painfully apparent on all sides, including the sorry state of American politics and the sordid behavior of many who would lead us,” the report card asserts. “Rectifying the situation is an enormous project to be pursued on multiple fronts, but schools are an obvious starting point. That’s where we can best begin to inculcate the next generation of Americans with a solid grasp of their country’s past and present, its core principles, and the obligations of responsible citizenship.”

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