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Uppity Wisconsin - Progressive Webmasters

« Baseball Hall of Fame Shuts Out Worthy Veterans | Main | Hyping Ziegler, WMC Trots Out Discredited Judicial Nonsense »

March 01, 2007


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Thomas J. Mertz

This is mandated by the state and MMSD like all districts in Wisconsin must teach and assess based on these guidelines:

I'm a strong believer in citizenship education also. I just don't want your readers left with the impression that MMSD is doing nothing in this area.


Richard Dreyfuss has made civics his crusade:

I grew up in Chicago and couldn't graduate from 8th grade until I passed a test on the Constitution. So we spent all of 8th social studies learning early US history starting with the Age of Exploration and working our way up to the Constitution going through it article by article, section by section, and amendment by amendment.

That DPI link didn't work. So what is the present curriculum?


America as a Democracy is a statement of fiction. Although it is true that a Democracy requires an educated population. We initially were Imperial colonies supported by private business charged to extract precious metals, geological treasure and agriculture product all powered by immense amounts of slave labor. Education was generally accomplished by placing the elite in Euro boarding schools. The thought of education of masses was not even a spark in governmental thought. Of course, reading as religious indoctrination, and government decree was taught. Reading propaganda is more effective and swifter than organizing heralds to speak the decree of the state.
As our Nation sails from an Oligarchy to Kleptocracy, the might of North America’s Armies is all that is necessary to promote the original Foundations Charter. Education has no place in a slave nation.

Thomas J. Mertz (without the period).


Tom: I reviewed the standards and have two thoughts:
First, the standards are great.
Second, high school students can take many wonderful, diverse courses, to meet the graduation requirements and get a diploma without coming near the standards.

In other words, the expanded class options are great, but the basics are avoided.

Thomas J. Mertz


Maybe Wisconsin needs to go the way of Illinois, where I too remember the 8th grade constitution test. I'm not a big fan of most mandates and high stakes tests, but this could be an exception. As a college history instrutor I find I have to address both the lack of basic knowledge and the sense that civic involvement is pointless. In fact I think that these are the most important things I do, use history to teach about our institutions and inspire activism.

If you want to make a crusade of this, you have a recruit (after the April elections:


Also note, (perhaps of interest to your sister) I just posted a short tribute to an Evanston School Board member on the AMPS blog:


Thanks Mr. Mertz. I feel like a doofus now for not having seen the errant period. When were these standards introduced?

Thomas J. Mertz

These, from 1998, look to be much the same as the current.

I'm not sure about the revision timeline, but in many states and at the federal level the social studies standards have been at the center of big fights. Part of that story is told in _History on Trial_ by Gary Nash.


I had a guy in my cab last election day who swore he had no idea what a primary election was. "I'm not all that into politics," he said and I thought he was pulling my leg, but when I talked to him further I realized it was no joke. I'm guessing he was in his mid-twenties. I graduated from high school in 1989 and remember very clearly much of the government class I had in seventh grade, not to mention the election officials camped out in the lobby of my junior high and high school every spring and fall. How could someone not know what a primary is?


Thanks Mr. Mertz.

Regarding Aaron's comment, I recall my American History class when I was in 11th or 12th grade in a small high school south of Eau Claire. The girl who sat next me leaned over one day and asked me in all earnestness what the 4th of July was all about. She had no idea why it was a holiday.

Thomas J. Mertz

A new book collecting essays by an interesting assortment of educators and ed policy people -- including Madison's own Gloria Ladson-Billings -- on patriotism.

It looks worth reading. Advanced civic education.


Thomas J. Mertz

"Making Sure Civics Education Is Not Left Behind

From in Nashville:

Iain Macpherson cares deeply about teaching civics, explaining to his fifth-graders how government works, what the Bill of Rights protects and what it means to be an American citizen.

To make the lessons real, the 61-year-old Scottish immigrant arranged for a federal judge to perform his own citizenship ceremony at his school, Freedom Intermediate in Franklin.

"I wanted them to know what the experience is like," Macpherson said.

Macpherson and other social studies teachers say they have to shoehorn civics lessons into their regular classes because Tennessee and most other states don't require civics to be taught separately.

Since the federal No Child Left Behind law was passed in 2002, schools have focused on reading and math, and that has squeezed out other subjects like arts, music and civics, educators say. So lawmakers in Tennessee and other states have proposed bills this year to save civics."

More at the link.

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