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Hall school leaders want to revamp social studies

Board calls for action committee to study, recommend changes in curriculum

POSTED: July 22, 2013 8:09 p.m.

An action committee will study Hall County Schools’ social studies curriculum, as approved by the Board of Education at its Monday meeting.

Hall Superintendent Will Schofield suggested the idea to board members, saying he wanted students to focus more on what makes the United States “so unique and so special.”

“It wasn’t too many generations ago that one of the reasons we had public schools was to make sure that the next generation knew what it meant to be a United States citizen,” he said. “Knew what it meant to vote. Knew what fiscal responsibility meant, both on an independent, personal level and on a communal level, as a community, as a state and as a national government.

“I get a sinking feeling that there are far too many citizens walking around today that are unfamiliar with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and what $15 trillion in debt means to their future.”

He said he sees this action committee being made up of community members, including government leaders and teachers.

They will study the entire K-12 social studies curriculum, with the intent being to bring recommendations before the school board on what to add, delete or change.

Board members approved.

“I am extremely excited about the prospects,” board member Brian Sloan said. “Not that we’re failing in some huge way, but there are too many of our students that are graduating and not understanding enough about basic citizenry and voting.”

Board chairman Nath Morris said he hopes there’s a way to reflect these potential changes.

“They keep adding more testing, but there’s got to be a way to do it better,” he said. “I think our population will appreciate that.”

Schofield responded that there is new digital portfolio technology in place to follow students.

“Wouldn’t it be fantastic for children to build a K-12 citizenship portfolio of their own?” he asked. “When we hand them a diploma when they go across the stage as 18-year-old seniors graduating, they also get their personal portfolio, what it means to be a citizen and what they’ve learned from kindergarten up through 12th grade.”

Schofield said it’s not that the aspects of American citizenship aren’t currently taught in the schools. It’s that there is additional focus on other topics spread out over the curriculum.

“I think we’ve tried to do so much 15 miles wide and a quarter-inch deep of those few things that make us Americans, that make us the United States,” he said. “It’s not that we haven’t taught them. It’s that it’s one of thousands of other things.”

There is no set time frame for the committee or curriculum development, though Schofield said he expects a proposed list of action committee members at the next board meeting in August, with curriculum recommendations being presented by the end of the year.

“We continue to believe that we have an obligation to set the agenda for what we teach our children,” he said.

“Forget about what the state’s asking us to do, forget about what Washington is asking us to do, and as parents and community members and Americans, ask what is it we want our children to leave us with ... when they leave at 17, 18, 19 years old.”


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