Planned Ga. Social Studies Changes Leave Advocates Concerned

Mar 14, 2016

The public's chance to comment on proposed changes to Georgia's social studies standards ends today at 5 p.m. What the new standards leave out, however, are leaving some teachers and advocates upset.

In the sixth-grade standards, the changes to the requirements no longer include the Holocaust or slavery's impact on the American continent.

This worries Jane Moore, a sixth-grade teacher at Inman Middle School, because standards determine what shows up on students' tests.

"I think it’s going to have huge implications. Students need to be taught the Holocaust [and] slavery. They need to know the Aztecs and the Incas,” Moore said. “I think honestly it's going to water down the curriculum."

The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, a state agency, has also spoken out against the changes because of the removed references to the Holocaust both in sixth and in eighth grade.

Shaun Owen, Georgia's Social Studies program manager, said the Holocaust, as well as slavery, are taught in other grades and in several different ways.

Students encounter the Holocaust in fifth and seventh grade, Owen said, while in eighth grade they learn about anti-Semitism through the Marietta lynching of Leo Frank. They then approach the Holocaust again in high school world history.

"We don't do that with all topics,” she said. “We know that it's a very important thing to be taught in Georgia and across the United States."

Owen said the sixth-grade history standards were also reduced so that they matched those in other grades.

The proposed standards, which wouldn’t go into effect until 2017, were developed from surveys with 9,000 Georgia teachers. 

In 2014, Georgia received an 'A' grade from the Southern Poverty Law Center for its coverage of civil rights in education.