What is the place for HRE within the K-12 curriculum? No discussion of curricular issues would be valid without recognizing the role played by the movement toward state and national standards (and their subsequent assessments). Realistically, there can be no room for content that is not somehow found within those standards. Many of you have read my article on the 2000 National Survey of Human Rights Education which uncovered the fact that 20 states had included human rights issues or content within their state social studies standards. A recent updating of that survey shows an increase of 25%. As of summer 2003, 50% (25) of the states include HRE concepts and/or content within their state social studies standards. Five states have legislative mandates to address these issues. These standards direct what is to be taught in K-12 classrooms across the states. In most cases, the standards also direct what is being tested. As painful as it may be to admit, the most successful way to insure that HRE will be included in classrooms is for human rights-related questions or essays to start showing up on high stakes exams. This approach is, however, self-limiting. By depending on standardized tests we limit ourselves to the "knowledge" level of human rights education as defined by Tibbitts and leave little room for values or action. This is a first step none the less and better than nothing. National standards on the other hand, are seen more as "guidelines" and have varying impact on individual states. Where their impact is most widely felt is in teacher preparation programs, specifically those connected with schools of education that have accreditation through NCATE. At this point 550 schools are so-accredited with another 100 in the application phase. They represent a large percentage of the future teachers of this country. In each case, the institution must show that its preparation program meets the standards of the various subject area specialty organizations (NCTE, NCSS, NSTA, ACEI, etc). Those standards developed or adopted by NCSS (Social studies) and NCTE (English), in particular lend themselves to promoting HRE. The NSTA (science) standards also seem to be open to including HRE. Teachers who experience HRE in their preparation program and student teaching are more likely to imbed it in their regular classroom teaching. Another way of insuring this instruction is to include HRE within the certification exams now being used across the states. The only one that I am aware of that currently includes HRE is the New York State Teacher Certification Examination, Content Specialty Test for Social Studies which specifically includes human rights content within the examination guidelines. (New York is one of the states with a legislative mandate.) Therefore the news is mixed: in 25 states, standards and testing can be seen as an impediment to HRE; BUT in the other 25, the same standards and testing can be played to our advantage to promote HRE as a viable, integrated part of the curriculum. That's a true glass half empty/glass half full scenario. Dennis N. Banks, Ph. D. Department of Secondary Education Fitzelle Hall SUNY Oneonta Oneonta, NY 13820 E-mail: BANKSDN@oneonta.edu ======== North American Human Rights Education listserv ======== Send mail intended for the list to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Archives of the list can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/lists/hr-education-na/markup/maillist.php If you have problems (un)subscribing, contact <email@example.com>. **You are welcome to reprint, copy, archive, quote or re-post this item, but please retain the original and listserv source.
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