Doing Better Than A Path Through History

nycapitolThe recent posts on the role of the municipal historians and the Path through History project have touched a nerve, several actually, as reflected in the emails I have received. Great!

There are serious issues which need to be addressed and few if any forums for discussion. It is astonishing how many people in the history community are not aware of the Path through History project or who have already given up on it on being anything credible &#8211 “an elegant show,” “the fix is in,” “I never heard of it.” In this post, I would like to share some things which are being done and suggest some things which should be done. Read more

Should We Teach NY State and Local History?

If you have an opinion on whether or not New York State and local history should be taught in our public schools, now is the time to speak up.

As noted on September 17 here at the online news magazine New York History, the State Education Department has released a draft version of the “New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework” for review and comment until October 11 [online]. There is a link there for people to submit comments. After revision, the document will go to the Board of Regents for adoption as state education policy. Read more

What’s Our Story? NYs Paths Through History

It is time for me to put up or shut up. My previous two posts have been about the Path through History project. I said the conference was a good first step but that the project was at the proverbial fork in the road. Many people in the historic community have witnessed these periodic forays into the world of cultural heritage tourism and our leery about another such effort no matter how sincere. I have pointed out some of what has been done already by different organizations throughout the state and raised the issue of where this project fits in given what has occurred.
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Comments Sought on NY Social Studies Curriculum

The draft “New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework” has been issued and is available online [pdf].  The New York State Education Department is inviting comments until October 11, 2012.

The K-8 Framework was designed to integrate existing New York State Learning Standards and curricula into a single document with an emphasis on Key Ideas and Conceptual Understandings for each grade-level. This differs from the 1996 New York State Learning Standards, where Content Understandings were provided at each grade level.

Common elements across all grades, derived from National Council for the Social Studies themes, Common Core Literacy Skills, and Social Studies Practices, are expected to unify the framework, strengthen the progression of skills across the K-8 continuum, and establish a consistent design approach that aligns with the demands of the Common Core Learning Standards.

This K-8 Framework document hopes to ensure:

  • Students develop an understanding of concepts and key ideas, driven by an in-depth analysis of primary and secondary source documents and an examination of patterns of events in history.
  • Students are assessed on their understanding of key ideas, as well as conceptual understandings.
  • Students are instructed across the K-12 spectrum using a coherent set of themes, key ideas, and concepts.
  • Districts and teachers have the ability to select the best pathways to teach and illustrate conceptual understandings and key ideas.

Public feedback on the draft is expected to be incorporated into final recommendations to the New York State Board of Regents. Once approved by the Board, the framework is expected to guide future development of P-12 curriculum modules for social studies, as described in New York State’s Race to the Top (RTTT) application (online at The framework can also be used for the development of local school district social studies curricula, and for the development of future statewide social studies assessments.  (For the 2012-13 school year, curriculum and assessments will be based on the existing standards and core curriculum guidance, available at

Comments may be submitted until 11:59 PM EDT on Thursday, October 11, 2012 via any of the following methods:

Online survey:

E-mail: [email protected]

Phone: (518) 474-5922


New York State Education Department
Office of Curriculum and Instruction
Attn.: Comment on Draft New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework
89 Washington Avenue, Room 320 EB
Albany, New York 12234

You can read all of our reporting on the Social Studies Core Curriculum here.

Teaching the Hudson Valley from Civil War to Civil Rights

Educators are invited to discover new ways to use the region’s special places to teach about controversy and decision making at In Conflict Crises: Teaching the Hudson Valley from Civil War to Civil Rights and Beyond. Registration is now open for THV’s annual institute, July 24-26, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

This year’s opening talk, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Controversy and  Connection in the Classroom of Life, will feature Kim and Reggie Harris, musicians, storytellers, educators, and interpreters of history. Accepting THV’s invitation they wrote, “Our nation’s history is filled with conflict, opposition, controversy, and crisis, but is also rich in perseverance, collaboration, determination, and compromise. We look forward to reflecting on ways to use these realities to prepare students to be thinkers and problem solvers.”

During the institute, more than 15 workshops will connect educators with historians, writers, and scientists, as well as their colleagues from schools, parks, and historic sites throughout the Valley. Topics include
Evaluating Scientific Claims (Cary Institute), Using ELA Common Core to Teach Controversy (Lewisboro Elementary School teachers), and Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State and the Civil War, (New York State Museum).

On day 2 of the institute participants will choose one of six in-depth field experiences at Columbia County History Museum (Kinderhook), Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site and FDR Presidential Library (Hyde Park), Fishkill Depot, Katherine W. Davis River Walk Center (Sleepy Hollow), Mount Gulian Historic Site (Beacon), or Palisaides Interstate Park.

You can find out more about the program online

Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, courtesy Bill Urbin, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, National Park Service.

Social Studies Curriculum: A Modest Proposal II

Regular readers of my posts know that the role of civics was an important point of contention raised at the recent annual conference of the New York State Council for the Social Studies. Such readers also know I have consistently advocated on behalf of local history both for the pedagogy of teaching critical skills beginning with one’s own backyard to the civic benefit of developing a sense of place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of community. Those concerns affect not only an individual’s sense of identity with the immediate area where one lives but also with the country as a whole where one is a citizen. Read more

Teaching NY Social Studies: A Modest Proposal

What do we need to do so when we pass the torch to next generation it is ready to grab it? With the upcoming vote by the New York State Regents on the social studies requirements for a high school diploma and the ongoing issue of the Common Core Curriculum with its lack of citizenship as a goal and probable minimizing of local history, I thought I would take this opportunity to issue my own modest proposal on what should be done. Read more

Teaching New York History: Three Frameworks

The revision of the New York State social studies curriculum should involve, or call on the expertise of, many individuals and historical groups, or they should consider proactively advancing their suggestions. Peter Feinman’s recent post included the resolutions of the annual meeting in March of the New York State Social Studies Council, articulating the concerns of social studies teachers and reaffirming the importance of social studies. Read more

Late-Breaking: Failed Tests and the NYS Regents

The New York State Board of Regents will be meeting on Monday and Tuesday, April 23-24, in Albany. The meeting overlaps with the Museumwise/MANY conference in Albany which I will be attending and the Public Historians meeting in Long Island which I will not be able to attend since I already had registered for the Albany meeting. Communication and planning among the various groups leaves a lot to be desired. Read more