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Program in the Humanities

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Check out this month’s CEC News!

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December 2014 – Happy Holidays from the CEC and the Program in the Humanities

FEATURED Resources: Resources from the CEC’s “Hidden Histories” Workshops

The NC Civic Education Consortium and the North Carolina Museum of History ( were lucky enough to host 95 North Carolina teachers this summer and fall for our exciting professional development series, “Hidden Histories: What Your NC History Textbook Left Out” and “Hidden Histories: Fact or Fiction?” Generously funded by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, these events were designed to deepen educator knowledge of lesser known state and national history, allowing teachers to gain a more comprehensive and multi-didactic understanding of neglected people and events throughout history in order to better engage their students’ interest and curiosity in our state and nation’s past.

To access the resources (PowerPoints, pre-readings, and more!) from these workshops, click the following link:

Below is a small sampling of lesson plans dealing with the themes that were explored during the Hidden Histories series:

More lessons are available in the CEC’s Database of K-12 Resources.

 News Updates

1. Run for the North Carolina Council for the Social Studies Board
In February 2015, members of the North Carolina Council for the Social Studies will elect three Executive Board members, a Treasurer and a President Elect to guide the work of NCCSS. This is a great way to enhance your leadership in the profession under standard IV of the NC Teacher Evaluation process. They need candidates who are extraordinary social studies educators, like yourself, to help lead this professional organization. The typical commitment is 4-5 Saturday morning meetings per year. Travel expenses are set at the state rate. Board Directors serve the Council in the decision making process as well as chairing standing and ad hoc committees for the Council. Service on the Executive Council is very rewarding, challenging, stimulating, and a lot of fun. Please indicate your interest by filling out the attached Google Form. You may only run for one position! They look forward to hearing from you!

Click HERE to access the registration form or email Mr. Matthew Love at to apply.

2. Registration is Now Open for the North Carolina Social Studies Conference
Conference Dates: February 12 – 13, 2015
Location: Koury Convention Center, Greensboro, NC

The 2015 North Carolina Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference will feature a series of workshop sessions on topics that reflect on this year’s theme, “the Civic Mission of Schools”, as well as developments in social studies education from around the state and nation.

For more information, visit the NCCSS site.  To register, click here.

3. School board begins sifting through AP US history dispute
By Mark Binker for

Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina’s state school board on Monday began picking through a controversy over whether new Advanced Placement U.S. history guidelines give adequate time to the nation’s founding documents and characters, although board members took no immediate action.

State lawmakers will use an oversight committee to tackle the same subject Tuesday, as a movement fueled by conservative writers suspicious of the motives behind the new history course pushes the issue onto the state’s policy-making agenda. Critics say the framework put forward by the College Board, which creates AP tests, does not adequately address ideas such as American Exceptionalism or introduce students to important documents such as the Mayflower Compact.

Representatives of the College Board said teachers should incorporate those ideas in the broad AP U.S. history course. Critics say that answer is insufficient and disguises an effort by those who designed the new tests to foist a politically liberal point of view on students.

“These professors had an agenda. We’ve already alluded to it. Basically, they saw America not as an exceptional nation but one nation among many in a global society,” said Larry Krieger, a former high school history teacher and opponent of the standards.

Krieger, who has authored a test preparation book on the AP exam and written critiques of the new course for conservative websites such as, has become one of the leading voices calling for additions to the AP U.S. history guidelines. He also argues that the new guidelines are incomplete – failing to include study of important historical documents such as the Magna Carta.

It’s unclear what actions the state board will take. State school boards in Texas and South Carolina, as well as a county board in Colorado, have been critical of the standards, although none has abandoned them entirely. North Carolina board Chairman Bill Cobey did not give an immediate indication of what the next steps might be at the meeting’s conclusion.

A search for balance

AP courses allow students to receive college credit for courses they take in high school. In addition to history, the College Board offers English, math, biology and other tests. North Carolina State University, for example, gives students different amounts of credit based on how well they do on the history exam, said David Zonderman, a professor and assistant chair of the history department.

“When the goal is to get students to dive deeper, to develop more understanding and critical thinking … I think I speak for most of my colleagues who would say, ‘Great, bring it on.’ We would reward this kind of stuff,” said Zonderman, who spoke by phone after Monday’s meeting.

But Krieger made the case to the State Board of Education that, in its focus on analysis and understanding, the College Board abandoned important concepts. In particular, he pointed to American Exceptionalism, the idea that the United States plays a uniquely positive role in human history, as an idea left behind due to the liberal bent of the College Board’s test designers.

James Ford, a history teacher who serves as an adviser to the state board by virtue of being teacher of the year, pointed out that U.S. history is replete with both major successes as well as failures.

“Isn’t a more balanced approach appropriate when trying to disseminate curriculum, rather than focus on the conclusion of something being exceptional … Is the term ‘exceptional’ required for a framework to be successful and rigorous in its analysis of U.S. history?” he asked.

Ford suggested that the idea is a conclusion that students should be allowed to reach for themselves rather than something that should be taught as fact.

Krieger said that, while the United States has had its failings, the College Board’s framework is “highly negative.”

In a follow-up question, Ford referenced Krieger’s objections to themes in the College Board’s framework related to early concepts of white superiority and African-American and Native American subjugation.

“Is the point of contention that it did not play a key role in the formation of America, or is there some other point that was problematic for you?” Ford asked.

Krieger replied that the College Board’s presentation of those subjects was not balanced.

“The concern is the phrases ‘rigid racial hierarchy,’ ‘white supremacy’ are presented as facts. They are not presented as nuanced statements. The framework is not balanced,” he said.

Making room for N.C. requirements

Zonderman, who did not attend the meeting, said that the idea of American Exceptionalism itself was a narrow one and did not present a full picture of history or historical figures.

“You can’t say that Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence and leave it at that. You also have to talk about Jefferson the slaveholder,” he said.

The idea, Zonderman said, is not to undercut Jefferson’s ideas of individual freedom and equality, but to present the full picture of history. “I’m saying you’ve got to understand this whole man.”

History professors like Zonderman influence the construction of the AP test and guidelines, said John Williamson, who is in charge of curriculum and instruction for the College Board.

“In order to continue to secure college credit and placement, the AP courses must reflect content that is deemed as required by college faculty,” he said.

Williamson argued the new course, which is being taught for the first time this year, responds both to the college professors who demanded better ability to spot historical patterns and themes and high school teachers who said they had to “race through U.S. history.” Rather than emphasize students’ ability to recall dates, names and other specifics, the new exam presses students to analyze and interpret what they’ve been taught.

That jibes with Zonderman’s sketch of what he said students should know coming out of an AP course. Yes, he said, they should know major historical figures and be able to place important historical events in their proper chronological context. But just as important as names and dates is the ability to evaluate source material and think critically.

“We look for skill development. Do these students know what an historical source is? Do they know how to read it? Can they take sources and use them to support an analytical argument?” he said.

Critics such as Krieger say the new AP curriculum does not meet the requirements of a 2011 state law called the Founding Principles Act. That law says every student must have a semester-long course of study that includes exposure to specific documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, as well as certain concepts like equal justice and rule of law.

Williamson said the College Board had developed a document that aligns the AP history framework with state requirements. But, he said, the school board might decide that all students need to take a different course, such as civics and economics, in order to meet their Founding Principles Act requirement before taking AP U.S. history.

In some respects, this debate is akin to arguments over the Common Core, a set of national standards for English and math. As with the Common Core debate, there seems to be some confusion between the broad guidelines to be tested and the particular curriculum a school system develops.

Williamson pointed out that the new testing regime isn’t unique in not pointing out key historical references.

“In the old course framework, many of the concepts Mr. Krieger said are missing were not included, but they were still taught in AP U.S. history courses,” Williamson said. “For example, in the old framework, you won’t find the Mayflower Compact or Franklin or the Magna Carta or Federalism.”

Lawmakers eye involvement

Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, who has served on several key education committees at the General Assembly, said he has been hearing from parents concerned about the points Krieger is making. After listening and asking questions during Monday’s meeting, Horn said there seemed to be points upon which Krieger and Williamson agreed.

He said he was particularly worried that the AP course could gloss over topics state law requires to be studied.

“When things aren’t in the framework, then just because of the heavy load that teachers carry, how can I be assured that these concepts, these fundamental concepts of what makes America America, are, in fact, going to be communicated?” Horne said.

While Horne said Krieger raises a salient issue with regard to whether all the founding documents can be taught within the context of the AP U.S. history course, he’s less certain about whether the College Board has any liberal agenda.

“Did he make a strong case? Not for me. But there are those in our legislature who will be disposed to believe that,” Horn said.

Lawmakers, he said, would hear about the controversy during a Joint Legislative Oversight Committee meeting Tuesday. Although the committee has the ability only to recommend legislation, presentations to the committee are sometimes prelude to lawmaking.

Horn said it would be his preference for the school board to sort out the controversy rather than having the General Assembly step into a curriculum fight. But that may depend on what steps the Board of Education takes.

“I call for the N.C. State Board of Education, an influential board of education, to stand up for America and call upon the College Board to rectify this situation by revising the framework,” Krieger said, pushing the board to take a more critical stance toward the new test and guidelines.

At least one state board member who participated in the phone call seemed to agree with the view that the AP U.S. history course needs to adequately imbue students with a sense of America’s unique character.

“The whole notion of Exceptionalism is just so deep and rich and full of it all that I would hope to see the College Board has found a way to embed that concept in the framework,” said board member Olivia Oxendine, an assistant professor in the school of administration at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

This article originally appeared at

Current Opportunities

1. Save the Date for The CEC’s Spring Workshops & Presentations
The CEC has been busy planning a whole host of new workshops and conference presentations for the Spring 2015 semester.  We’re still confirming the rest of the details for some of the workshops, so registration isn’t open yet, BUT we do have the dates secured, so pencil them in your calendars now and keep checking our “Upcoming Trainings” page for more information as it becomes available.

We hope to see you at one of our workshops or presentations!

2. Registration is Now Open for the Spring 2015 Adventures in Ideas Seminar Series!
Register now to secure a spot in a general seminar offered by the Program in the Humanities. K-12 Teachers receive a 50% discount off tuition and a $75 travel stipend as a part of the Daisy Edmister Fund. Seminars are Friday evening and Saturday morning or all-day Saturday. Receive credit for 10 contact hours of continuing education. While these programs are designed for a general audience and do not include pedagogical training or lesson plans (unlike the Consortium’s teacher trainings, which include a combination of pedagogy, curriculum exploration and scholar lectures), these seminars are still an excellent way for teachers to expand their content knowledge in various topics.

Topics and dates are:

For more information about these opportunities and to register, visit or call 919-962-1544 or email  Register today to secure a seat!

Please note: Teachers are eligible for only one $75 stipend per semester.

3. Teachers: Once in a Lifetime Professional Development Opportunity from National Geographic is Now Open!
Deadline: January 4, 2015

Calling all teachers—this is the moment you’ve been waiting for! We’re looking for 25 K-12 educators currently teaching in the U.S. or Canada, to join us in 2015 for an all-expense-paid, adventure of a lifetime.  Selected educators will travel aboard the ship National Geographic Explorer or National Geographic Endeavour on expeditions ranging from the Arctic, Holland and Belgium, Iceland, the Galapagos, Peru, Chile, Antarctica and more. While aboard, Fellows will share the importance of geographic literacy with fellow travelers, develop activities to bring back to their classrooms, and have an adventure of a lifetime. Prior to the expedition, all 2015 Grosvenor Teacher Fellows will travel to Washington, D.C. (April 16-19, 2015) with all expenses covered to participate in a pre-voyage workshop sponsored by National Geographic, and Lindblad Expeditions.

This field-based PD experience could take you to the Arctic, Greenland, the Galapagos, Holland & Belgium, or even Antarctica!

To learn more, visit the National Geographic Grosvener Teacher Fellow Program website.

4. Spencer Foundation Invites Proposals for Education Research Projects
Deadline: February 5, 2015

Established in 1962, the Spencer Foundation is dedicated to the belief that research is necessary to the improvement of education. To that end, the foundation supports high-quality investigations of education through its research programs and is dedicated to strengthening and renewing the educational research community through its fellowship and training programs and related activities.

Through its New Civics Small Grants Program, the foundation is accepting research proposals that ask critical questions about how education can more effectively contribute to the civic development of young people. Of special interest are improved understandings of the avenues for and impediments to civic learning and civic action among young people who do not attend college, who reside in marginalized communities, who are recent immigrants or immigrants of different legal statuses, or who are less economically privileged.

The program awards grants of up to $50,000, typically extending over periods of one to four years.

Eligible projects must have a principal investigator and co-PIs who have an earned doctorate in an academic discipline or professional field, or appropriate experience in an education research-related profession. In addition, the PI must be affiliated with a college, university, school district, nonprofit research facility, or nonprofit cultural institution that is willing to serve as the fiscal agent if the grant is awarded.

See the Spencer Foundation website for complete program guidelines, an FAQ and application instructions.

5. Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement “Champions Engaging North Carolina in 21st Century Teaching and Learning”
Date & Location: March 30 – April 1, 2015, Koury Convention Center, Greensboro, NC

The Collaborative Conference on Student Achievement reflects the Department of Public Instruction’s efforts to accommodate some of the economic challenges experienced by schools and communities by providing a multi-faceted professional development opportunity for educators and education stakeholders. This conference is designed to consolidate several conferences into one by merging the Accountability, Safe Schools, and Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps conferences. Watch their website for exciting updates on speakers and sessions!

For more information, visit

6. NCTM Invites Proposals for PreK-8 Pre-Service Teacher Action Research Grant
Deadline: May 4, 2015

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is inviting proposals from pre-K teachers to support a collaborative action research project by university faculty, pre-service teachers, and classroom teachers seeking to improve their understanding of mathematics in preK-8 classrooms.

Primary emphasis will be placed on collaboration among a team of researchers consisting of university, elementary/middle school teachers, and pre-service teachers from the undergraduate ranks. Research should be designed, implemented, and completed with a focus on enhancing the teaching and/or learning of mathematics in grades preK-8.

A single grant of up to $3,000 will be awarded. Grant funds should be used to support project expenses to plan and carry out the research.

The applicant must be a current full individual or e-member of NCTM or must teach at a school with a current NCTM preK–8 school membership. The participating pre-service teacher(s) must be in an initial licensure/certification program at the undergraduate level and, at some point during the term of the grant, must be engaged in some form of practicum experience or student teaching.

For complete program guidelines and application instructions, see the NCTM website.

7. Science Spotlight – applications for free science literacy curriculum now open
The NC Science Festival has developed the Science Spotlight curriculum to get high school students talking about hot topics in science: nuclear energy and fracking. Students will also have the unique opportunity to continue the discussion with a Festival-paired expert in the field.

For 2015, this program will be available from September through April, and teachers can participate in both fall and spring semesters.

In addition to science teachers, economics and civics teachers are also encouraged to apply! The Festival has experts in law, land use policy and economics to speak with your students about these interdisciplinary topics.

 Get more info or apply online: • 919-962-3274

 About the Festival: The NC Science Festival is a multi-day celebration showcasing science and technology, April 10-26, 2015. The Festival highlights the educational, cultural and financial impact of science in our state. Through hands-on activities, science talks, lab tours, nature experiences, exhibits and performances, the Festival engages a wide range of public audiences while inspiring future generations.

Are you following the Consortium on Facebook? Receive announcements of additional opportunities for teachers and current news relating to civic education by clicking the link below!



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