Proposed standards: Read the draft and comment on the proposals
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Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and other key historical figures missing from an initial draft of Nebraska social studies standards reappear in the latest version, alongside computer entrepreneurs Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who make their debut.
The proposed standards released Monday are leaner than the ones they would replace, with fewer names and details.
They would give kids a healthy dose of instruction on free-market economics and the principles of the American republic such as liberty, democracy, constitutional government and the Bill of Rights.
They read more like broad direction to guide teachers than a detailed checklist of key events and people. They focus on big concepts and teaching students how to research, view sources critically and consider multiple viewpoints.
The standards would put greater emphasis on personal economics, teaching kids about life essentials like mortgages, car loans and credit cards.
For the first time, the standards would include climate change as a concept for discussion in high school geography. And they introduce the 9/11 attacks and other acts of terror as a topic for U.S. history classes.
The current standards, adopted in 2003, contain no references to terrorism.
The proposed standards reflect the suggestions of three independent reviewers, whose criticism helped clear up some confusing language and plug in some absent events.
One of the reviewers, Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning, concluded that the proposed standards compare favorably to the standards in four states considered standouts: California, Indiana, Georgia and Massachusetts.
All four states received A's and B's for their history standards in a 2011 report by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
A 30-day public comment period opened Monday on the standards, which will guide instruction in Nebraska public schools.
The standards describe what students should know and be able to do at each grade level, in history, geography, civics and economics.
The Nebraska Education Department tapped about 50 social studies educators, elementary through college, to rewrite the standards. Nebraska's 249 school districts must adopt the finished state standards or enact their own of equal or greater rigor.
The proposed standards mention Jobs, Apple's deceased computer co-founder and former chief executive officer, and Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, among contemporary notables.
To see or comment on the standards:
• Request paper copies of the draft standards and survey by contacting Donlynn Rice at the Nebraska Department of Education, 301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln, Neb., 69509, or by clicking here.
• A public meeting to gather input is scheduled for Nov. 15. The time and location will be posted later on the Nebraska Department of Education home page.
After public comment, a final draft will be drawn up and submitted to the Nebraska Board of Education for approval in December.