Proposed standards: Read the draft and comment on the proposals
Comments are pouring in on Nebraska's proposed social studies standards, most of them from educators, state officials say.
By Thursday afternoon nearly 340 people had logged onto the Nebraska Department of Education website to opine on the new standards that will guide teaching of social studies in the state's public schools.
Of those, 240 completed an online survey set up by the department to solicit comments.
Opinions have ranged “from 'They're perfect' to 'There are too many' and everything in between,” said Harris Payne, the state's director of social studies.
The new personal finance section has received favorable comments, especially in light of the nation's recent recession, Payne said.
Some teachers have expressed concern about having the resources to teach the new standards, he said.
Comments from the survey and an interactive videoconference Thursday will be compiled for members of the Nebraska Board of Education, which will consider approving the standards at its Dec. 6-7 meeting.
The draft is already stirring debate over what's in and what's not.
Climate change, which is not mentioned in existing Nebraska standards, is introduced in the draft as a concept that students would evaluate along with loss of biodiversity, deforestation, the ozone layer, air pollution and other “environmental geographic issues.”
“American exceptionalism,” meanwhile, which one board member has pushed to include, is not in the draft.
American exceptionalism is the notion that America's founding principles, such as inalienable rights and consent of the governed, make it unique and special among all the world's nations.
Whether to include those topics, and how teachers would present them to students, could be the most contentious issues facing board members as the 30-day public comment period winds toward a Nov. 28 close.
The standards describe what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in history, geography, civics and economics.
The department tapped about 50 social studies educators — from elementary school through college levels — to rewrite the standards.
Nebraska's 249 school districts must adopt the final standards or enact their own of equal or greater academic rigor.
The Thursday meeting will be held by videoconference at five locations across the state: Kearney, Lincoln, La Vista, Scottsbluff and Wakefield.
The Omaha-area meeting will be at the Educational Service Unit No. 3 headquarters, 6949 S. 110th St.
Public comment will be taken twice during the day, at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
People may also submit comments by mail to Standards Input, Nebraska Department of Education, 301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln, NE 68509 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1077, email@example.com