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Bluegrass Institute supports former state education board members' request to recall, revise social studies standards

New Bluegrass Institute Policy Point addresses standards’ deficiencies, incompleteness 

Most former Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) members who approved the commonwealth’s current social studies standards in February 2019 now acknowledge they’re highly problematic and should be recalled, revised and further developed.  

A letter to state lawmakers on the Interim Joint Committee on Education and co-chairs of the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee signed by nine of the 11 former KBE members outlines major concerns that have surfaced as teachers and trainers attempt to cope with an inadequate set of standards determining what Kentucky’s public school students should learn. Some of the concerns listed in the letter include:

Despite the surging interest in socialism on the part of many young Americans, Karl Marx, socialism and communism are never mentioned.

No war after World War II is listed.

All presidents other than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson aren’t even mentioned. 

Many other important figures in history like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie and Benjamin Franklin are omitted. In fact, all other historical figures with the exception, strangely, of Samuel Adams, Henry Clay and Daniel Boone are missing. 

The atomic bomb and its important implications are never discussed.

Important, peaceful events like the Louisiana and the Alaska purchases are not mentioned.

A new Bluegrass Institute Policy Point authored by education analyst Richard G. Innes analyzes deficiencies in the Kentucky’s social studies standards in addition to comparing them with other states’ criteria. Read the full report here. 

Lawmakers can recall the regulation which adopted the deficient standards any time. 

“Legislators should find it easy to recall these standards for Kentucky students which are so inadequate that they fail to include even so much as a mention of Abraham Lincoln, our commonwealth’s native son and 16th president who was responsible for dealing a fatal blow to slavery while saving the Union,” said Bluegrass Institute CEO Jim Waters. 

The letter also outlines the inadequate guidance given to teachers, noting how limited explanations added to the standards for kindergarten through eighth grade include caveats that they are only “possible suggestions” and “are not the only pathways and are not comprehensive to obtain mastery of the standards.” Even such limited explanations are absent for the equally vague high school standards.

The former board members ask: “How can state assessments validly seek to measure anything specific with such vague guidance?”

It’s a key question because state law mandates material not included in the approved standards cannot appear on state tests taken by public school students.

Due to the absence of guidance to teachers, video “Modules” were created to train teachers on what those incomplete standards really mean. However, as the board members point out, “these ‘Inquiry Ready Modules’ are not available for parents or the general public to review and are based explicitly on concepts closely associated with neo-Marxist critical theory.”  

Secret neo-Marxism in Kentucky’s classrooms clearly wasn’t the intention of KBE members appointed by former Gov. Matt Bevin.


“The combination of vagueness, concerns about the legal implications of test material missing from the standards and the potential impact of Marxist philosophy make it imperative that legislators send these standards back to the drawing board for revision, development and much more scrutiny in general,” Waters said. “Anything else, less or different would not be in the best interests of Kentucky’s public school students.”


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