There seems to be a problem in North Carolina. We found this item at the website of WFAE, a National Public Radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their headline is Teachers Fight To Keep Prehistoric Humans In NC Social Studies Curriculum. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
Human evolution and prehistoric times would vanish from North Carolina’s social studies curriculum under new proposed standards. But some teachers are fighting to keep the Paleolithic Era alive in classrooms. Kenneth Dailey teaches sixth-grade social studies at Quail Hollow Middle School [link omitted] in south Charlotte. That means he’s responsible for introducing students to a time more than 10,000 years ago, when Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens shared the planet.
Why would the Paleolithic era, i.e., the old stone age, which goes back more than 3 million years, be made to vanish? WFAE says:
Dailey said it’s important for students to think seriously about what we know – and don’t know – about an era that predates civilization. The fact that there are no historic documents to consult makes it a better learning opportunity, he said. “I want them to have access to the scientific, the genetics, the geography, the archeology – I want them to have all of that,” he said.
Sixth grade may be a wee bit early for all of that, but at least it should be mentioned and made available in a course about human history. WFAE tells us:
Dailey says he was shocked when he saw the state’s proposed social studies standards. They call for sixth-grade world history to start with the Neolithic Era – the time when humans had started farming and building civilizations. The Paleolithic Era is just … gone.
Gone? Something’s wrong here. Human history didn’t suddenly start with the Neolithic era — the so-called new stone age — except in Genesis. The news article continues:
In July, the General Assembly ordered the state Board of Education to review and revise [link omitted] its K-12 social studies standards. Lawmakers mandated specific changes in high school, where students will have to pass classes in personal finance and civic literacy to graduate.
The statute doesn’t mention starting history with the neolithic era. Let’s read on:
Evolution can be controversial. [Really?] Some who embrace a biblical account of creation take issue with scientific theories. DPI [the state Department of Public Instruction] hasn’t explained why the Paleolithic Era was eliminated, and the official in charge of the review didn’t answer when WFAE asked for an explanation.
Do you suspect, dear reader, that Oogity Boogity may be involved here? Another excerpt:
Dailey said it makes no sense to just skip prehistory. [Unless you think the world is only 6,000 years old.] “If we did just start with ‘Here’s a civilization,’ I mean, almost inevitably the kids are going to say, ‘What’s going on before that?'” he said. “They always ask for the evidence.”
So, he said he did what he’s always telling his kids to do: He mustered his evidence and wrote an essay, which he sent to state officials and the local school board. “The new standards as written represent a bias, intentional or otherwise, away from science and remove a valid and evidence-driven explanation for early modern man’s development of both self and civilization,” he wrote.
Dailey’s a good man, and he may have trouble over this. Here’s more:
A statewide teachers’ group called Red4EdNC [link omitted] reviewed the standards and came to a similar conclusion. The group’s analysis [link omitted] says the new standards would deprive North Carolina children of important theories about the origin of humanity. “We cannot understand modern humans and their behavior without understanding tribal humans and their culture,” the analysis says.
Dailey’s not alone in this. That’s good. And now we come to the end:
Lori Major Carlin, the state education official in charge of the social studies curriculum, says her team plans to address the Paleolithic Age in the next draft of the standards. The state will take public comments [link omitted] on the first draft through Feb. 15. The second draft should go public sometime in March. Dailey will be waiting eagerly. He said he doesn’t care so much about telling his students what to think about the birth of humanity … but he does want to teach them how to think about it.
At this point, nobody seems to know what’s going on, but something is obviously wrong in North Carolina. Maybe they’ll get it cleared up. We’ll be watching.
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