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Social studies standards go under review
It's a routine evaluation that's getting a lot of attention: the Nebraska state social studies standards. The Department of Education is taking public comment Thursday.
The forums are held via videoconferencing. There are five different locations: Kearney, Lincoln, La Vista, Scottsbluff and Wakefield.
Each location is connected via video chat.
It's a way to get as many people's opinions as possible.
When it comes to the social studies standards, some people support them, and others.
"There's a lot, there's a lot wrong with these standards."
And during a statewide video conference Thursday, citizens spoke up about what kids could learn in school.
"We must allow them, we must trust them to reach their own conclusions."
But, there's some disagreement.
"Those students are individuals that still need guidance," said concerned citizen Kathy Wilmot.
Two issues are sparking debate. The first? The notion of American Exceptionalism. It's not in the standards, but some people say it should be.
"They need to know what has set America apart and above," Wilmot said.
Hastings Public Schools is supporting the current draft as it is.
"Any person who reads the standards will come to the conclusion very quickly and easily that the United States of America is unique and exceptional, so we don't need to muddy the waters by including a term that's not well defined and that's partisan," said HPS Director of Curriculum Chad Dumas.
The other issue? Global Warming.
The two words appear just one time in the document as an example of discussing how humans interact with the environment.
"It's okay to discuss it, definitely not as a fact," said Wilmot.
She says it's like teaching evolution.
"Now, again, to me, that's a theory," Wilmot said.
"It's not a matter of fact or fiction. It's a matter of how do we help our kids understand that the environment impacts us and we impact the environment," Dumas said.
After all, these are social studies standards. Students won't be studying the scientific aspects of global warming.
"It's studying it in terms of human interactions with each other and with the world around us," said Dumas.
There is another public meeting starting at 6:30 Thursday night. In Kearney, it will be at the Educational Service Unit on Plaza Boulevard.
The Nebraska State Board of Education will make revisions based on the feedback.
Final approval of the revised standards is tentatively scheduled for December 7th.
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