District restructuring social studies curriculum

Signe Stroming

No more studying Alexander the Great. No more studying the Aztecs and Mayans. No more studying the changing class structure of the French Revolution. These are all now things of the past.

To create a more uniform and comprehensive high school education, Washington State passed a law requiring .5-credit of civics for all high-schoolers, starting with the class of 2015. This change has prompted the Issaquah School District to restructure the ninth and tenth grade social studies curriculums, ending World Studies and European Studies as we know them.

A committee with representatives from each high school is in the early phases of deciding what the new curriculum will look like. The committee includes social studies teacher Amy Cooke and assistant principal Sean Martin.

“The civics class is a state law, but having a voice in how we do that is important,” Martin said.

The committee is currently considering adding a semester of civics senior year. Students could also meet the requirement by taking AP Government. The details of the class are yet to be determined, but the class will focus on the individual’s role in government.

“We will talk about the importance of being a good, active citizen in our participatory democracy,” Cooke said.

The district took this opportunity to reexamine the social studies curriculum for underclassmen. In two years, World Studies and European Studies will no longer be offered. Instead students will take three semesters of world history between their freshmen and sophomore year. Junior year will remain unchanged.

“We want students to walk out with a high school diploma and be able to say that they had a strong social studies experience that prepared them to be a citizen and think and communicate clearly,” Martin said.

Cooke said that they are looking into offering advanced placement classes for underclassmen, and getting rid of the Honors system altogether. They hope to add AP Geography for freshmen and AP World for sophomores. The district wants the new curriculum proposal from the committee by the start of summer.