Friday, May 09, 2008

Latino History left out: Testimony

Testimony; May 9, 2008.
Focus Group on the History-Social Science Framework for California Schools.

Dr. Duane Campbell, Professor of Education. Cal. State University –Sacramento.
I have been teaching Methods of Teaching History and Social Sciences for 35 years, and supervising student teachers using the Framework.

It is urgent that the History-Social Science Framework be revised to provide an accurate history of the contributions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Latinos and Asians to the history of the state and of the nation. The current Framework reflects the historiography of the 1950’s. It is substantially out of date.
The 1987- 2005 document expanded African American, Native American, and women’s history coverage but remains totally inadequate in the coverage of Latinos and Asians—both significant population groups in the development of history of the West. The only significant change between the 1985 and the 2005 adopted Framework was the addition of a new cover, a cover letter, and additions of photos such as of Cesar Chavez (For a detailed analysis of this curriculum conflict, see Cornbleth & Waugh, 1995, and Campbell, 2004) . Latinos currently make up 48.1 percent of California’s student population and Asians make up 8.1 %.
By 2003, major national organizations and legislatures have recognized a need to substantially revise preparation of young people for citizenship. The Civic Missions of Schools project said:

History classes should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives. Competent and responsible citizens:

1) Are informed and thoughtful; have a grasp and an appreciation of history and the fundamental processes of American democracy; have an understanding and awareness of public and community issues; and have the ability to obtain information, think critically, and enter into dialogue among others with different perspectives. “
The Civic Mission of Schools. (http://www.civicmissionofschools.org) The Carnegie Corporation.

In a society as diverse as California, the need for history and an understanding of public issues must be inclusive rather than exclusive. We should re write the History-Social Science Framework so that all of our students - members of the California’s diverse communities- recognize their own role in building our society and economy.

The just published Democracy at Risk by the Forum for Education and Democracy says it well, “ The welfare of our nation rests heavily upon our system of public education. We strive to provide all of our children with equal access to a high-quality, free education because we know that without it, our democractic way of life will be at peril. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “ If Americans desire to be both ignorant and free, they want what never has been and whill never be. “ Indeed, it is our democratic system of governing, based upon the twin pillars of equal rights and responsibilities , which requires we have a system of public education” ( Darling-Hammond and Wood, 2008). (http://www.forumforeducation.org/)
The California History-Social Science curriculum is not sufficient unless it prepares all students for democracy. Current efforts in history and in civics education are not sufficient because they do not include the substantive necessity of bringing all of our young people to the table of democracy. (Parker, 2003)
California should be leading the way in preparing our young people for civic life. We are not. Instead, we are currently restricted by the out of date and substantially limited History-Social Science Framework. The Framework should be updated to include scholarship developed since 1980.

Media and Technology
In the 9th. grade electives, a course should be added on the creation, development and use of media and technology as communication tools and as political instruments. California, the home of Silicone Valley, is not bringing our students into the current era.
Every California student, every school, should have access to the skills to use technology and to access the vast media world around us, from libraries, to data bases, including Youtube and others. Henry Jenkins of MIT in an important paper written for the MacArthur Foundation in 2006 says,

“Educators must work together to ensure that every American young person has access to the skills and experiences need to become a full participant ( in our democracy), can articulate their understanding of how media shapes perceptions, and has been socialized into the emerging ethical standards that should shape their practices as media makers and participants in online communities….
Fostering such social skills and cultural competencies requires a more systemic approach to media education in the United states. Everyone involved in preparing young people to go out into the world has contributions to make in helping students to acquire the skills they need to become full participants in our society.” (Jenkins, 2006)
Technology is already changing our world and our schools. A revised History-Social Science Framework provides an opportunity for all California students to join in this development rather than be left behind by a new form of tracking where the middle class and the elite students have technology, and the students of color and language minority students have electronic worksheets and test preparation drill material. All students need to learn the skills of locating relevant information and evaluating information and media resources .

Dr. Duane Campbell,
campd@csus.edu

Author, Choosing Democracy: A practical guide to multicultural education. ( 3rd. edition. Merrill, Prentice Hall. 2004)

Project on Democracy and Political Participation.
Cross Cultural Resource Center.
Department of Bilingual/Multicultural Education.
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