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Making Room for History, Science, Art in the Common-Core Era

Several education experts recently made the case for the importance of ensuring topics such as history, science, and the arts get adequate classroom time and attention as states and districts begin to implement the Common Core State Standards.

The issue was the focus of a March 15 event hosted by the Washington-based research and advocacy group Common Core, which has just announced plans to create a set of curriculum maps in history and geography pegged to the common standards. Although the common standards primarily cover mathematics and English/language arts, they also address literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects.

"There is no such thing as doing the nuts and bolts of reading in kindergarten through 5th grade without coherently developing knowledge in science and history and the arts. Period. It is false. It is a fiction," said David Coleman, a lead writer of the English/language arts standards, according to a blog post published by Common Core.

The blog also features comments from other panelists, including Carol Jago, a past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, Lewis Huffman, an education associate for social studies at the South Carolina Department of Education; and Steve Farkas, president of FDR Group.

Last December, Common Core released survey results finding that about two-thirds of teachers say disciplines such as art, science, and social studies are getting crowded out of the school day.

In her remarks, Common Core President Lynne Munson also raised concerns about finding a place for these subjects in the curriculum. And she elaborated on her organization's plans for new curriculum maps in history and geography.

The maps will be based on content drawn from "the best existing state social studies standards" and will address the new common core literacy standards in history and social studies, said Munson, a former deputy director of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President George W. Bush.

"They will be a guide that elementary and middle school teachers can use to build their students' knowledge in history and geography as they address and reinforce standards," she said.

Last summer, Common Core issued a revised set of curriculum maps it has developed for the English/language arts standards. The revised maps, which unlike an earlier version are not free, seek to provide a coherent sequence of thematic curriculum units that connect the skills outlined in the ELA standards with suggested student objectives, texts, and activities.

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