(c) Copyright August 12, 2011
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
Currently students in the Hawaii Public Schools are required to complete four years of credits in social studies in order to graduate. The Board of Education will consider on August 16 a proposal to reduce that requirement to three years. No courses would actually be eliminated; all would remain available as electives.
I and others who favor freedom of choice believe it's a good idea to reduce government-imposed requirements to the lowest possible level. We realize that a compulsory school attendance law (also allowing for home schooling) is necessary in order to ensure that children get the knowledge and skills they will need as adults so they can pursue happiness, participate as decision-makers in a democratic society, and not become reliant on welfare handouts. We don't want parents or corporations forcing children to work as laborers in clothing factories or taro patches.
But surely three years of required social studies ought to be sufficient, with a fourth year available as an elective. Most of America's 50 states require only two years of high school social studies: U.S. history (including a section on the history of their state), and world history.
Many students, with advice from their parents and guidance counselors, would probably abandon the fourth credit in social studies in order to take an extra course in mathematics, science, foreign language, or perhaps a practical/technical/vocational course in auto mechanics, woodworking, homemaking, etc. I believe that would be a wise decision.
If the BOE adopts the proposal dozens, or perhaps even hundreds, of social studies teachers would lose their jobs. That's why a major propaganda campaign against the proposal has been launched by the teachers' union, and especially the social studies teachers and their supporters. There have been a large number of commentaries and letters to editor in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Civil Beat (online), and neighbor island newspapers supporting the graduation requirement for four years of social studies, and virtually no items favoring the cutback. Members of the Board of Education are being heavily lobbied. A large turnout of aggressive, shrill social studies advocates is expected at the August 16 meeting.
Some of the commentaries are simply absurd. They describe the bad things that will happen to society if students, deprived of that fourth credit, fail to acquire the values needed for a democratic society, or fail to acquire knowledge about other cultures. But there's a very obvious rebuttal to all such assertions. Young adults in Hawaii already display poor socialization, lack of knowledge and respect for other cultures, and lack of civic involvement -- even though they have already served their time in high school taking the four credits of social studies required for graduation! Hawaii has the lowest rate among all 50 states for voter participation by adults age 18-24. Obviously, those four years of social studies courses, especially the required one entitled "Participation in Democracy", have failed miserably to achieve the objectives touted by the writers of the commentaries. One definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results.
For example, one essay on Civil Beat says "Ultimately the costs of increasing citizens’ sense of helplessness, estrangement, and disengagement that result from dropping social studies courses from the required curriculum include: Violent crime (against individuals) ... Hate crime (against categories of people) ... Crime intended as protest against the government by those who feel estranged from the government ... sabotage ... lost opportunities -- financial, social, artistic, scientific, etc."
But we already have those problems in Hawaii, perpetrated by young hoodlums who took all four credits in social studies. Let's not forget the racial hate crime a few years ago in Waikele
or the fact that the highly esteemed Southern Poverty Law Center included an article in its quarterly "Intelligence Report" on anti-Caucasian hate crime in Hawaii.
Another essay in Civil Beat by a UH professor of computer science asserts that poor problem-solving and writing skills, and lack of knowledge of other cultures, makes it hard for students to write computer programs that will solve the needs of the technology marketplace
He says he'd like to see more science and technology courses in high schools, but not at the expense of social studies. But again, the Hawaii high school graduates in his classes have already had four years of social studies, and apparently are nevertheless unable to meet the professor's expectations. Also, if the professor is correct about the need for social studies skills in creating culturally sensitive computer programs and technology, then surely those social studies teachers who will be losing their jobs can find good careers as consultants in import/export or technology corporations.
We all know the media are heavily biased toward the left. The "debate" over the social studies proposal is an example. There's no debate! Perhaps 95% of all published commentary demands that we keep the requirement for four years of social studies.
In the same way, the social studies courses themselves are heavily biased toward the left. That's a major reason why the leftists want to force our kids to keep being exposed to four years of propaganda in the schools instead of only three. One course currently required, that would no longer be required, is entitled "Participation in Democracy." This is probably the course the leftists are most worried about losing. Teachers of this course typically require students to participate in political activities such as writing letters to editor, working as volunteers in political campaigns, or attending rallies. But do we ever hear of student participation in support of conservative candidates, or students lobbying in opposition to a race-based government for ethnic Hawaiians? I recently wrote a major review of the "standards" and textbooks for the required course entitled "History of Modern Hawaii", showing examples of its anti-Caucasian, anti-American bias. See
Let's hope the Board of Education, at its August 16 meeting, will have the courage to cut the current requirement for four years of social studies to only three, in order to allow students and parents the freedom to choose more useful courses in mathematics, science, languages, and vocational/technical areas. The requirement should actually be reduced to two years; but that seems beyond hope.
Honolulu Civil Beat, September 16, 2011
U.S. History, World History Omitted From Proposed Hawaii Grad Requirements
By Katherine Poythress
Hawaii's latest graduation policy proposal that reverses a recommendation to reduce social studies requirements also goes against promises made in the state's Race to the Top. And it defies a national trend toward more rigorous college- and career-ready diplomas.
This proposal, dated Sept. 20, is the second graduation policy recommendation that the Hawaii Department of Education has submitted to the Board of Education in the last three months, and it includes some key differences from its June 21 predecessor — namely the absence of U.S. and world history requirements.
U.S. history and world history have "always been there" as part of Hawaii's high school graduation requirements, the state's former social studies specialist, Elaine Takenaka, told Civil Beat this week.
According to the department's Authorized Courses and Code Numbers manual, which reflects the current graduation requirements adopted by the Board of Education:
"Social Studies must include one year each of U.S. and World History (in grades 9 and or 10 as determined at the school level), one semester each Modern Hawaiian History and of Participation in a Democracy (in grade 11), and two semesters devoted to the study of other disciplines."
In keeping with both current and longstanding state educational policy, U.S. and world history were included in the department's controversial June 21 graduation policy recommendation that proposed reducing the number of required social studies courses from four to three. That memo stipulated "three credits of Social Studies (including World History, U.S. History, Modern History of Hawaii, or new standards proficiency-based equivalents)."
But the two courses are not required in the department's latest recommendation to the board. The Sept. 20 memo stipulates:
"Four credits of social studies (including Modern History of Hawaii [.5 credit], Participation in Democracy [.5 credit] and three other history and/or social science courses [3 credits] such as U.S. History, World History, AP Psychology OR newly-developed standards proficiency-based equivalents)."
The omission is partially because the department is moving away from course titles and credits to a "performance-based environment," Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe told Civil Beat, in keeping with its adoption of the new Common Core State Standards. That means the department will rely more on interdisciplinary, "relevant" courses that don't fall into the traditional model of single-subject textbook curricula.
Nozoe and Hawaii P-20 Director Karen Lee said it's unfortunate that so much of the focus in recent months has been on the number of social studies credits and the names of courses.
"This should really be about the Common Core State Standards," Lee said.
But the Common Core initiative does not yet include any standards for social studies — only English language arts and mathematics.
U.S., World History Included in Other Education Initiatives
As the department takes on the challenge of aligning itself with social studies standards that don't yet exist, its new stance on history simultaneously appears to depart from its push for a nationally recognized college- and career-ready diploma. The department is marketing this proposal as its college- and career-ready diploma, but 18 of 20 states that have already adopted a college- and career-ready diploma require both U.S. history and world history. The other two require U.S. history.
The Sept. 20 memo from the department acknowledges that its graduation policy proposal also departs from the state's Race to the Top assurances, which include end-of-course exams in both U.S. and world history.
"While some specifics of this recommendation differ from the Race to the Top plan, the goal of students achieving proficiency in the Common Core State Standards so that graduates meet national and international standards for college and career readiness remains the same," the memo reads.
Nozoe said that although the transformation process may be confusing and at times frustrating, the department is committed to implementing a rigorous curriculum for students.
He added that he expects help from the same community leaders and educators who lobbied this summer to reinstate the fourth social studies requirement.
"The point is that, assuming that we have the good fortune of passing these graduation requirements, students will still have to take four credits of social studies," Nozoe said. "And we're hoping to see this transformation take place, and we really need the help of these empowered social studies folks who came forward and have a deep understanding of social studies through experience."
** Online comment by Ken Conklin
So now we're going to keep the requirement for 4 years of social studies courses, including "History of Modern Hawaii" and "Participation in a Democracy", but we're going to eliminate both "World History" and U.S. History." That's astonishing. What we're keeping is a curriculum which turns the public schools into a propaganda factory for leftwing liberalism combined with Hawaiian sovereignty activism. Who cares about U.S. history, right? Hawaii is not really part of the U.S., right? See my webpage "Reducing the requirement for four years of social studies in Hawaii's public schools" at
and especially my detailed analysis of the course content and textbooks in "Modern History of Hawaii" at
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(c) Copyright August 12, 2011 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved