History Education: Jobs-focused education leaves history in the dustbin


History Buzz

New test scores on history and civics reveal how little American students know their nation’s past. Yet such knowledge is essential for active citizens.

Source: CS Monitor, 6-14-11

A society can make progress only if its young people know of the progress their country has made so far. In America, that means fourth-graders should be able to identify Abraham Lincoln – only 9 percent can. High school seniors must know about the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling Brown v. Board of Education – only 2 percent do.

Such statistics are particularly worrisome because today’s 12th-graders will be able to vote in next year’s elections.

Most of these fledgling citizens and future leaders haven’t fared well on a national “report card” issued every few years about how well students grasp civics and history.

In the latest scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, just 12 percent of high school seniors are proficient in US history while 24 percent measure up in civics. And of all the subjects tested under NAEP since 1994 – math, reading, science, writing, geography, civics, history – students do the worst in history.

In the 2010 test, some progress was found among eighth-graders, especially blacks and Hispanics, since 2006. And ever since the NAEP began in 1994, fourth-graders have shown a healthy gain in history scores. But that may reflect improvements in reading skills, experts say.

By the 12th grade, students score the worst on history compared with earlier grades, with more than half not reaching even basic knowledge. (The test categories for history include democracy, culture, technology, and the US role in the world.)

Fixing this problem isn’t easy. Education in the United States has become focused on developing marketable skills for scarce jobs and less on the skills of citizenship. The 2002 No Child Left Behind Act has forced schools to focus almost solely on math and reading, which often leaves history and civics in the dust. As a result, most fourth-graders spend less than two hours a week on social studies in the classroom.

This curriculum gap may be one reason for the generally declining rate of voting among young people. And one recent survey found most 18-to-29-year-olds could not peg the unemployment rate (9 percent) within five percentage points….READ MORE

Political Buzz June 13, 2011: Michele Bachmann Wins Second Republican Debate & Officially Announces Presidential Bid


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

Cheryl Senter for The New York Times

Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain at the debate


  • Live Blogging the G.O.P. Debate in New HampshireNYT, 6-13-11
  • Live blogging GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire: We are live blogging tonight’s GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire, being held at Saint Anselm College. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are participating.
    The two-hour debate is sponsored by CNN, WMUR and The Union Leader. CNN’s John King is the moderator…. – USA Today, 6-13
  • Factbox: Republican White House contenders in 2012Reuters, 6-13-11
  • Fact Checking the Republican Debate: As they debated the economic downturn and health care, the Republican candidates who faced off Monday night in New Hampshire sometimes let spin run ahead of the facts…. – NYT, 6-13-11
  • The top five takeaways from the GOP debate: After two hours of talk and lots of interruptions from a moderator, here are the five things you need to know from tonight’s GOP debate:
    1. Bottom line: This debate was about Barack Obama: There was a lot of speculation going in that the candidates would start slugging it out with one another to break out of the pack. Not tonight. It was Republicans United vs. Obama. Here’s a sample of what they said about the President: “He’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing.” (Mitt Romney) “The Obama administration is an anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-American energy destructive force.” (Newt Gingrich) “Just make no mistake about it. I want to announce tonight. President Obama is a one-term president.” (Michele Bachmann)
    2. Mitt Romney maintains his status
    3. Tim Pawlenty blinked
    4. America, Meet Michele Bachmann
    5. The other candidates did what they could –
    CBS News, 6-13-11
  • E.J. Dionne Jr: GOP debate winner: Michele Bachmann: I didn’t expect to think that Michele Bachmann would be the big winner of tonight’s Republican debate in New Hampshire, but that seemed the obvious conclusion. She was at ease and forceful without looking at all crazy or out-of-control. It’s a sign of how far to the right the Republican Party has moved that she didn’t stand out for her extreme views. On this stage, suggesting we should just rid ourselves of the Environmental Protection Agency seemed par for the course.
    Mitt Romney did not lose anything tonight, which means that, since he leads in the polls in New Hampshire, he is a kind of winner. And on substance, his forceful defense of religious liberty was actually a high point. I agree with a view that is becoming widespread on the web – Chris Cillizza and Jennifer Rubin made this point in their winner-and-losers wrap-ups – that it was strange or timid for Tim Pawlenty not to be willing to back up his Sunday attack on “Obamneycare” with any force tonight. Either you want to take that fight on or you don’t…. – WaPo, 6-13-11
  • Bachmann stands out in CNN debate: During tonight’s presidential candidate debate, CNN moderator John King posed a series of “this or that” questions to the candidates. These “Coke or Pepsi,” type questions were light moments in a debate that also presented voters with a lot of “this or that” choices among the candidates….
    Overall: It comes down to Romney or Bachmann. He’s still the front-runner and didn’t hurt himself. That’s enough for some to declare him the winner. But Bachmann had far more to gain from this debate in introducing herself to voters and she took full advantage of the chance. She’s the winner. – Des Moines Register, 6-13-11
  • The Mitt and Michele Show: Romney showed front-runner status, while Bachmann proved she belonged on stage. Mark McKinnon on why they shone-and the rest of the debaters flopped Monday night.
    The two clear winners in the GOP debate hosted Monday night in New Hampshire were former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Political debates are all about expectations. Mitt Romney had more than anyone to lose. Michele Bachmann had more than anyone to gain. Romney deftly fended off attacks particularly on health care, and Bachmann proved she’s smart and credible, and has every right to be on the stage…. – The Daily Beast, 6-13-11
  • Republican presidential candidates attend first debate: The leading contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination appeared together onstage for the first time Monday. But they used the debate to train their fire on President Obama rather than to define their differences.
    Given opportunities to critique one another’s stances, the seven competitors repeatedly deflected the questions during the first hour to attacks on the president….
    The biggest surprise of the evening was the announcement by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) that she has filed the paperwork to begin her campaign. She had previously indicated that she would not make a formal announcement until later this month.
    The debate, held at St. Anselm College, was officially the second of the primary campaign season. But only five candidates showed up last month in South Carolina, and with the exception of Pawlenty, they were all long-shots.
    Monday’s forum included nearly all the leading candidates. But most of them remain largely unknown nationally, a factor that could explain their reluctance to go at one another. At this early stage, they are introducing themselves to a nationwide audience, and testing their competitors’ strengths and vulnerabilities.
    It is a Republican field unlike any other in generations, in which none of the contenders has been able to establish himself or herself as an overwhelming favorite. In the normal order of things, Romney would hold that poll position, by virtue of his organization, his fundraising network and the exposure he received from his 2008 run for the nomination…. – WaPo, 6-13-11
  • 7 in G.O.P. Square Off, 7 Months From First Vote: Opening a new phase in a race that is unusually unsettled for a party once famous for its discipline, seven Republican presidential candidates met Monday night in their highest profile opportunity yet to begin drawing distinctions among themselves even as they united to press the attack against President Obama.
    With the economy wavering and conservatives energized, Republicans see an opportunity to capitalize on the sense that the nation is on the wrong track. But with seven months remaining before the first votes of the nominating contest are cast, the candidates sought to show that they were both electable and ideologically acceptable to primary voters.
    The spotlight was trained squarely on Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, whose appearance here amounted to his debut on the stage four years after losing his first bid for the party’s nomination. He sought to press his business credentials, arguing that he was the strongest nominee to promote a message of economic revival and job creation, but he worked to deflect conservative criticism over the state health care plan he signed that resembles the national one signed into law by Mr. Obama…. – NYT, 6-13-11
  • U.S. Republicans blast Obama, not each other: The Republican White House contenders focused their attacks on President Barack Obama and refrained from attacking each other on Monday in their first major debate of the 2012 nominating race.
    The Republicans criticized Obama as a failure on the economy and attacked his healthcare overhaul as a gross government intrusion, but sidestepped numerous chances to hit their party rivals in the face-to-face encounter.
    “This president has failed, and he’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing,” said former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who leads the Republican pack in opinion polls…. – Reuters, 6-13-11
  • GOP contenders to meet in New Hampshire debate Republican voters get a chance to compare Romney with six rivals: It’s a coming-out party of sorts for the apparent Republican frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who will be participating in his first debate of this campaign season (several candidates debated in South Carolina in May).
    Romney will have his first chance to spar onstage with his rivals, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ex-Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the only woman in the race and a champion of the Tea Party movement.
    Former ambassador to China and Utah governor Jon Huntsman is not taking part in the debate, but is expected to formally announce his candidacy within days…. – MSNBC, 6-13-11
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: “This president has failed. And he’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing. And instead of doing that, he delegated the stimulus to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and then he did what he wanted to do: card-check, cap-and-trade, Obamacare, re-regulation.”
  • Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty: “This president is a declinist. He views America as one of equals around the world. We’re not the same as Portugal; we’re not the same as Argentina. And this idea that we can’t have 5 percent growth in America is hogwash.”
  • Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann: “Unlike how the media has tried to wrongly and grossly portray the Tea Party, the Tea Party is really made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who’ve never been political a day in their life, people who are libertarians, Republicans — it’s a wide swathe of America coming together.”
  • Former pizza executive Herman Cain: “This economy is stalled. It’s like a train on the tracks with no engine and the administration has simply been putting all of this money in the caboose. We need an engine called the private sector.”

    Michele Bachmann Announces Candidacy for President: Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota interrupted her answer to a question at a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire to announce that she had filed papers on Monday to formally declare her candidacy for the Republican nomination for president.

  • Michele Bachmann enters presidential race: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, an outspoken Republican with close ties to the tea party, announced Monday that she is running for president, a candidacy that could further shake up a volatile fight for the GOP nomination.
    The first female contender to enter the 2012 race, Bachmann announced her bid during a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire. The third-term Minnesota congresswoman has been leaning heavily toward a run over the past few months, visiting early primary states, raising money and railing against President Barack Obama.
    “We cannot risk giving President Obama four more years to dismantle our nation. We must act now,” Bachmann said in a fundraising letter sent within an hour of her entrance. “That’s why I’ve made the decision to get in this race.”
    She brings high energy, charisma and proven fundraising ability to the race to nominate a Republican challenger to Obama. She also is known for unyielding stances, biting commentary and high-profile gaffes.
    Bachmann is attempting the rare leap from the U.S. House to the presidency…. – AP, 6-13-11
  • Bachmann confirms presidential candidacy: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann ended any doubt that she is running for president, saying during Monday night’s CNN GOP presidential debate that she has filed for the 2012 race.
    “I filed … my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States today, and I’ll very soon be making my formal announcement,” Bachmann said shortly after the start of the debate in Manchester, New Hampshire.
    Bachmann, of Minnesota, became the seventh Republican — and the only woman — to confirm her candidacy. She was the only one of the debate’s seven participants who hadn’t formally declared before the start of Monday’s event at Saint Anselm College’s Sullivan Arena.
    Her campaign also posted a YouTube video in which she announced she was running. “This is the first day of taking our country back,” Bachmann said in the video.
    A third-term congresswoman, Bachmann is a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, founder of the 50-member House Tea Party Caucus and fiery critic of the Obama administration…. – CNN, 6-13-11
  • Michele Bachmann uses GOP debate to announce presidential candidacy: Rep. Michele Bachmann used the first major presidential debate of the 2012 campaign to announce that she is formally running for president.
    For Bachmann, the conservative from Minnesota, the announcement was expected, but the timing of it was not. She had been expected to declare later in the month in Iowa.
    But early in the debate in Manchester, N.H., live on CNN, Bachmann said that she had filed her paperwork Monday with the Federal Election Commission to launch a presidential fundraising committee.
    She said she would soon make a public announcement. CNN’s John King, a bit flustered, quickly pushed Bachmann to return to addressing the debate topic at hand.
    Bachmann, 55, has served in the House since 2007. A former tax attorney, she’s popular among “tea party” activists. At present, she is the only woman in the GOP field.
    She also appeals to social conservatives. The mother of five, she has also served as foster parent to 23 other children…. – LAT, 6-13-11
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