Thursday, May 26, 2016

ADE Defies Legislature, Law on Requiring American Government To Be Taught in HS


I got a letter from a fellow we shall call "Brutus". You may recall his article saying that the ADE's new education standards "eviscerate" U.S. History standards. Partially in response to his article, the legislature passed a law reversing the bureaucracy's decision and requiring American Government to be taught in High School. It looks like the schools are ignoring the law, and the ADE is letting them, or maybe even encouraging them. 
My ultimate view on the matter is that this is a local decision which each district should decide on their own. I think if they did, schools would mostly teach American Government in High School. Instead, the ADE tried to push them to drop the class before the legislature over-rode them and said to keep it. Is this just that ADE is not doing its job, or is ADE encouraging schools to drop the course despite the law? 

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Dear Arkansas legislators. 
In 2015 you sponsored or co-sponsored the bill that is now known as Act 1284.  Act 1284 restored stronger high school social studies graduation requirements that the State Board of Education had plan to reduce as of July 1, 2015.  Since Act 1284 became law on April 8, 2015, it does not appear that the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) has made changes in regulations to comport with the new law nor is ADE enforcing the law.  School districts are either unaware of the new law, or they are ignoring it. 
Reference text of Act 1284:
Here is a sample of Arkansas high schools that no longer require the teaching of American Government despite the passage of Act 1284:
Example #1: 
Fayetteville High School’s posted current graduation requirements do not include a course in American Government. (See handbook, page 7)
Example #2:
Springdale High School’s posted current graduation requirements do not include a course in American Government. (See Career Action Planning catalog, page 3)
Example #3:
Van Buren High School’s posted current graduation requirements do not include a course in American Government. (See district handbook, page 94)
Example #4:
Fort Smith North Side High School’s current graduation requirements do not mandate a course in American Government.  See webpage: http://www.fortsmithschools.org/nside/CounselingOffice/GraduationRequirements.aspx
Example #5:
Little Rock high schools’ posted current graduation requirements do not include American Government.  See webpage:http://www.lrsd.org/sites/default/files/graduation_requirements/High%20School%20Graduation%20Requirements%20-%20one%20page.pdf 
Example #6:
Texarkana High School catalog does not list American Government as a graduation requirement – and does not even list American Government as a course offering.  See page 23 of course descriptions:
I am keenly aware of this issue because I teach American Government and United States History to high school students.  What we see is a profound dumbing down of Arkansas students –  students who can no longer be expected to understand the structure and functioning of American government.  
I am hesitant to sign my name to this letter because as an Arkansas licensed teacher I can get my certification revoked as payback by the ADE over some made-up issue.  Nevertheless, truth is still truth. 
The bottom-line question is whether or not the rule of law applies in Arkansas. 
Sincerely,
"BRUTUS"

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