David Schmus, Outreach Director for CEAI, issued an appeal for members to join him at the State Capitol, where the California State Board of Education planned one final round of citizen input prior to voting to accept the 2016 Draft of the History – Social Science Framework for California Public Schools. After reading David’s appeal on a Monday morning in early July, I considered the daunting challenge of getting myself to Sacramento by Tuesday evening. After carefully considering the potential impact on our schools, I prayerfully decided to go.
The State Board of Education last published its History – Social Science Framework in 2005. Eleven years later Eric Buehrer (president of Gateways to Better Education) examined the revision draft with growing alarm at the retreat from historical accuracy. Eric identified 29 changes that needed to be made to counter the politically correct revisionist history in the new framework. Months ago, he proposed these needed changes, of which the committee accepted four. Eric and David considered what Eric had accomplished, but also what challenges still remained to be addressed. David wrote a letter stating seven problem areas in the new framework, and solicited signatures from state legislators, twenty of whom supported the petition. David also sent out his appeal to CEAI for assistance.
At the final public meeting in which concerned citizens had opportunity to make a statement to the board, each member of our team of educators personalized one aspect of Eric’s analysis so we could testify with authenticity and authority. God brought nine of us to Sacramento, which gave us nine one-minute time slots to step to the microphone, introduce ourselves, establish credibility, and make our points. We pointed out that the new draft: 1) doesn’t align to state content standards or Common Core (an ally in this case); 2) isn’t consistently historically accurate; and 3) includes intentional deletions from the 2005 framework, indicating bias.
In the new framework, we discovered a retreat from affirming the existence (let alone primacy) of the Judeo-Christian heritage in America’s founding. The 2005 fifth grade framework correctly states that America was established “by immigrants from all parts of the globe and governed by institutions founded on the Judeo-Christian heritage, the ideals of the Enlightenment, and English traditions of self-government.” The new framework deletes “Judeo-Christian” and instead says America’s governing institutions were “influenced by a number of religions” (p. 124).
In grade 11, the 2005 framework states: “Special attention should be given to the ideological origins of the American Revolution and its grounding in democratic political tradition, Judeo-Christian ideals, and the natural rights philosophy of the Founding Fathers.” The 2016 framework has the exact same statement, minus “Judeo-Christian ideals” (p. 505).
The authors of the new framework also assume all religion is an evolving social construct, not the result of divine revelation. When referring to Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity, the 2016 framework states: “These religions and philosophical systems changed as they developed, in order to address human needs, support social order, and adapt to different societies” (p. 188). Regarding Judaism, the framework asks, “How did the environment, the history of the Israelites, and their interactions with other societies shape their religion?” (p. 205). We argued that the framework should recognize that certain practices and expressions may change over time, yet still acknowledge the religion’s adherents’ views that they are based in revealed truth.
The 2016 framework neglects mentioning Christians’ belief in Jesus’s resurrection, despite its presence in the content standards. The framework omits this central supernatural claim of Christianity, yet includes Islam’s claim that Mohammed received divine revelation from Allah. On page 253, the new framework asserts: “The Roman authorities in Judea executed Jesus. But under the leadership of his early followers, notably Paul, a Jewish scholar from Anatolia, Christians took advantage of Roman roads and sea lanes to travel widely, preaching to both Jews and others.” The framework should note the reason Christians traveled—they believed Jesus had risen from the grave. Their Savior lived!
We presented these, plus other points, in our documentation and oral testimony. The State Board of Education could have sent the draft back to committee for further revision; rather, they adopted the draft version, which will influence the K-12 curriculum and adoption of textbooks for years to come. Although we lost this round, the current state content standards, which carry more weight than the framework, are still strong on these points.
Of what value was our testimony and effort to address the board? We put in the public record our dissatisfaction with the new framework, which will hopefully position us to make future gains. We discovered a sense of common purpose with others – including certain legislators – who concern themselves with the foundation of our national life and how it is portrayed. We also planted the seeds for a team of California educators who work will ensure that we are better prepared next time.
The process of updating the framework had being going on for 1 1/2 years before we tuned in to it. Don’t be caught off guard in your state! Get involved! Find out about these processes, serve on committees, etc. See how God may have you minister beyond your classroom and students—all to His glory!
By CEAI member, John Robertson