Brown shoots down history curriculum update

Brown shoots down history curriculum update

(Calif.) Gov. Jerry Brown rejected legislation Thursday that would have required the state to complete a full revision of its history and social studies curriculum standards by July, 2018.

The bill, SB 1057 by state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, sought an update of the standards last revised in 1998 – but Brown said in his veto message approval of the bill would slow down an alternative plan already underway.

“I agree that providing up to date instructional guidance to educators for use in their classrooms is important,” the governor said. “This is precisely why the State Board of Education is currently updating the history-social science frameworks, which is on track to be adopted next spring.”

The governor’s action is likely to cause second-guessing among some educators and highlights the arcane role the state plays in defining student educational goals and how teachers meet those goals.

What a student should know and when is generally defined by content standards and is usually the first step in guiding instruction. Curriculum frameworks, typically the next step, are blueprints the state provides classroom teachers for how to connect students with the content standards.

California’s history-social science standards are now 16 years old and silent when it comes to a long list of historical events. But work on an update of the frameworks –based on the old standards – began in 2008.

The framework update, however, was set aside at the onset of the state’s fiscal crisis about a year later and has sat idle since.

Officials at the California Department of Education had lobbied against the Corbett bill, arguing that historical omissions in the standards could be accounted for with the new frameworks. In perhaps a clear sign that Brown would veto the Corbett bill, the governor’s state board of education approved a plan to move forward on the framework update at its regular meeting earlier this month.

The state board’s plan would deliver new frameworks next spring but the standards would remain badly out of date.

Other education bills signed by Brown this week:

SB 949, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, is designed to help prevent childhood obesity by encouraging healthy eating and physical activity in after-school programs.

The bill establishes a voluntary California Distinguished After School Health (DASH) recognition program, and proposes standards for physical activity, “screen time,” and the serving of fruits and vegetables.

After-school programs that elect to meet these requirements will be awarded a special “DASH” certification.

In order to be DASH-certified, after-school programs must limit television or computer “screen time” and serve fruits or vegetables as snacks on a daily basis; serve no fried foods, candy or sugary or high sodium foods or foods with transfats; and limit the sugary beverages that are served. SB 949 also requires 30 minutes to an hour of physical activity a day and staff training on healthy eating and physical activity standards.

  • AB 1993 by Assemblymember Steve Fox, D-Palmdale, requires the California Department of Education to develop an online training module to assist all school staff, school administrators, parents, pupils, and community members in increasing their knowledge of the dynamics of bullying and cyberbullying.
  • Two bills, AB 1915 by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, D-Sherman Oaks, and SB 1380 by Sen. Mark Wyland, R-Escondido, encouraging the inclusion of lessons on the Armenian, Cambodian, Darfur and Rwandan genocides in the state’s next update of its history-social science standards and frameworks.

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