HM - June 2019 - Updating Michigan Standards
Updating Michigan's Social Studies Standards
Fewer, Clearer, Higher.....Longer
by Jim Cameron
In 2015 a Focus Group is formed with 31 social studies leaders, a few parents and students, and community members. A sitting state senator is invited by MDE leaders along with a conservative judge. The senator brings three friends and six full days of work follow. The resulting document is taken around the state at 18 Listen & Learn sessions along with an Online Survey to gather feedback from the community. The feedback was overwhelmingly opposed. Over 5,000 responses questioned our minds, intellect, and heritage. In 2018 the Standards are again presented to the State Board of Education. They request additional feedback. The fun continues.
Late 2018, MDE solicits Michigan residents to apply for Six Task Force Committees- K-4, United States History & Geography, World History & Geography, Civics, Economics, and Bias Review. The 13 Task Force Chairs, recruited from the Focus Group leaders, select members of their committees based on criteria established by MDE which include geographic diversity, teachers, administrators, parents, students and interested community members. Each group meets for several full days, records changes and rationales for the changes, and communicate with each other. Connections to the C3 Framework’s Arc of Inquiry are established. Additionally, seven communities- African American, Arab American, Asian Pacific American, Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities- are invited to review and respond to the proposed Standards.
April 9, 2019 the Standards are again presented to the State Board of Education. They again request additional feedback. The fun is diminishing.
Another Online Survey is opened and nine more Listen & Learn sessions are scheduled around the state. A 45-minute presentation is shared with each of the nine sessions. The remaining 75 minutes consist of audience members sharing their opinions both in writing and verbally. We are in our fifth year of revisions. The fun is completely gone.
The 13 Task Force Chairs meet once again to edit the Standards based on the feedback from the Listen & Learn sessions and the Online Survey Feedback. The final(?) document is presented to the State Board of Education on June 11, 2019. Stay tuned.
- It’s great to have a strong, supportive boss.
- It’s great to have an incredibly strong network of state social studies experts.
- Don’t include politicians on standards development.
- Always record rationales for your work.
- Know that if both sides don’t like your document, you got it right.
Jim Cameron, a former NCHE Board member and retired high school history teacher, is a Social Studies consultant for the Michigan Department of Education.