Teaching California Rewrites Its K12 History

AHA Session 284
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History 10
Sunday, January 8, 2017: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Mile High Ballroom 1A (Colorado Convention Center, Ballroom Level)
Nancy J. McTygue, California History-Social Science Project, University of California, Davis
Overseeing California’s Framework Revision
Nancy J. McTygue, University of California, Davis; Bill Honig, California Department of Education; Thomas Adams, California Department of Education
The Process of Updating History
Beth Slutsky, University of California, Davis
Scholar Advocacy and Incorporating the FAIR Education Act
Don Romesburg, Sonoma State University

Session Abstract

Between 2014 and 2016 California updated revised its History-Social Science Framework, which is the state adopted document that informs instruction of the state standards and textbook adoption.  The goal of periodically updating state history-social science materials is to ensure that the latest disciplinary research, legislation, and pedagogical practices are implemented to the fullest extent in California’s classrooms.  Across the nation, this same process has been undertaken at various state and local levels, and of course at the national level when the Advanced Placement Framework was released and revised in 2015.  Garnering national headlines, recent efforts to “rewrite history” for K-12 students has produced attention-getting results.  For example, when Texas updated its history materials in 2010, state lawmakers decided to lessen the role that slavery played in causing the Civil War; thus when Texas textbooks were written, purchased, and distributed in 2015, students across the state began learning a history that was written not only by historians, but also by a variety of law and policy makers.  With the national context as a firm reminder of how deeply politicized K-12 history education and memory can be, California’s process at updating its history seems to have taken a decidedly different course, though not without its own set of controversies.  This panel will feature the two people that chaired the state’s History-Social Science Subject Matter Committee (SMC) of the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), Nancy McTygue (Executive Director of the California History-Social Science Project(CHSSP)) and Bill Honig (former State Superintendent of Public Instruction), as well as Beth Slutsky (also with the CHSSP), who wrote and oversaw Framework development.  In addition, Don Romseburg, Professor of History at Sonoma State University will describe his role as a lead scholar-advocate for the incorporation of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history into the Framework revision.  These four panelists will explain not just the process of re-writing history given this national context, but also they offer and broader explanation of the national implications this Framework could have by focusing on several examples of recent updates to the document.  These presenters were charged with updating not only content, but with aligning history-social science education to the Common Core State Standards and newly-adopted English Language Development Standards.  After all, in a state in which nearly half of the students are non-native English speakers, live below the poverty line, and will not attend higher education, the stakes and purpose of K-12 history education could not be higher.  To make the past meaningful and accessible to all of California’s students, this document has come to argue that history-social science education is important for four purposes: to teach content; to support literacy development; to teach critical  thinking skills; and to make concrete the value of citizenship.
See more of: AHA Sessions