NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

National History Standards Still Fail To Make The Grade

May 2, 1996

A number of those who have reviewed the newly revised national standards for history say they are still biased, although an improvement over the original.

Critics point to these biases:

  • The standards characterize pressure for economic, political and social change coming from liberals as "reform;" but describe it as "reaction" when proposed by conservatives.
  • The Progressive movement in American history is peopled with the most admirable figures -- much more so than the era of Founding Fathers.
  • Students are asked to discuss the "sluggishness in the overall rate of economic growth" since 1973 -- overlooking the remarkable rate of economic expansion during the Reagan years.

Critics also cite some true or false questions included in the standards as indications of bias. The "correct" answer to each of the following statements is supposed to be "true."

  • The American Revolution "called into question" relationships between man and woman and parent and child.
  • The Great Depression ranks with the American Revolution in "its effects on the lives of Americans."
  • "At the beginning of the 20th Century, Western nations enjoyed a dominance in world affairs that they no longer possess."

A larger question still needs to be answered, according to some critics: Should educational mandates come from the federal government, or from the states, where education is conducted?

Source: Lynne V. Cheney (American Enterprise Institute), "New History Standards Still Attack Our Heritage," Wall Street Journal, May 2, 1996.


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