Our kids and our grandkids will be the next generation of leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs. They will also be the leaders of the future of our great American republic. They deserve an honest and factual classroom teaching that will prepare them to engage in our civil society for the rest of their lives.
In South Dakota, our students will be taught the best social studies standards in the country.
In the last century, the education movement has pushed to remove history and social studies in favor of what they deem “more practical pursuits.” And more recently, the No Child Left Behind initiative and its counterparts have all but eliminated history and civics instruction in elementary schools in favor of focusing the entire day on reading and math.
This has resulted in a severe decline in the teaching of social studies in this nation. A growing majority of Americans lack a fundamental understand of this country’s government structure and our history. In fact, more than half of natural-born American citizens could not pass a citizenship test.
Our kids and grandkids have not been learning the basic founding principles upon which their country was built. They do not know about the ideals and the vision of our Founding Fathers. And without this knowledge, they do not see how lucky they truly are to live in the greatest nation in the history of the world.
That is unacceptable – but we are taking steps to fix it.
In South Dakota, we have just passed new social studies standards that raise the bar for high-quality civic education in America. They are clearly written, rich in context, address the full story of our nation’s past, and incorporate South Dakota topics throughout all grade levels. These standards have the largest emphasis on Native American history of any proposed standards to date, as well.
America’s kids are struggling with civic literacy and uncivil discourse. A change in the approach to how we prepare our future citizens is far overdue. Our new social studies standards implement crucial changes to help our kids and grandkids. They are clear, concise, and transparent. Parents deserve to know what their children are being taught in the classroom.
The standards also integrate civics into all American history classes at every grade level and creates “spiraled sequencing.” This means that students will study world history four times and American history and civics five times over the course of their years of education. With each class, students will build upon what they have already learned, deepen their understanding, and acquire knowledge that will endure long after their high school graduation.
In South Dakota, we are finally giving our students the kind of education they deserve. We are equipping them with the necessary knowledge and experiences to become active members of our society. And we are preparing them to grow up and continue the legacy of this great nation.
It is my sincere hope that other states will follow in our footsteps and raise our kids to know and understand the importance and the significance of the history of the United States of America. Because the history of our nation is a history worth learning.
This originally printed as an op-ed on FoxNews.com.