fbpx Skip to content

Stay Up to Date!

Zip Code
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

CT’s New Social Studies Standards “Fail Students” Group Argues

A national organization dedicated to civics education has criticized the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)’s new social studies standards, saying they fail to teach students to “love America for its liberty,” instead inciting them to “hate America because it has not yet achieved the ideological nightmare of equity.” 

Released in February, the report Disowned Yankees: How Connecticut’s Social Studies Standards Shortchange Students was produced by Civics Alliance, a New York-based group that is “dedicated to preserving and improving America’s civics education.” The organization is part of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), whose mission is to uphold the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship. 

The report expresses concern about the new standards’ language on the grounds that it purveys the “pedagogies of the radical identity-politics coalition and the climate activists” and Critical Race Theory, and is infused with “hostility to groups such as whites, men, and Christians — and, above all, with hostility to America.”  

“The Standards does not teach Connecticut’s children what freedom is,” said David Randall, report author and Executive Director of the Civics Alliance, in a press release. “Nor does the Standards teach where America’s ideas of freedom come from in the long history of Western civilization, nor how our ancestors achieved their freedom, nor how our laws and republican institutions limit the scope of government to preserve our freedom, nor what is necessary to preserve that liberty.” 

Civics Alliance lists many examples of what it calls “politicized items” and passages from the standards that align with identity politics and “action civics.” It is also critical of the basic facts omitted by the CSDE’s standards, such as identifying places on a map, economics (though students are asked to discuss “exploitation”), key historical figures (including those from Connecticut) or America’s military history. To the last point, the report argues that the CSDE “virtually erases how Americans fought, or even that they did fight.” 

Approved last October, the new K-12 guidelines integrate subject matter related to Native America studies; Asian American and Pacific Islander studies; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other sexual orientations and gender identities studies; climate change; personal financial management and financial literacy; the military service and experience of American veterans; civics and citizenship; the principles of social-emotional learning; and racism. The curriculum was developed in partnership between the CSDE, the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies, along with state and national reviewers and content specialists. 

Civics Alliance, however, suggests that the standards’ development was assembled by “misguided legislation and a secretive bureaucratic process,” resulting in a product that is “bloated, vague, riddled with distortions and absences.”  

Nevertheless, the new standards’ advocates believe the curriculum will allow for critical thinking as students will determine “what are the important issues in American history and world history, and study them from multiple perspectives,” Steve Armstrong, a social studies advisor to the CSDE, told Connecticut Public in November 2023.  

Yet Civics Alliance argues that this critical thinking — also known as inquiry-based learning — is a “means for ideologues to ask arbitrary questions that forward their activist agenda, rather than to provide a coherent survey of knowledge.” Furthermore, the standards de-emphasize writing expectations, with the group stating that “none of the inquiry-based skills it prescribes include the ability to read or write.” 

While the CSDE does not track social studies scores across the state, Connecticut students are still underperforming their pre-pandemic counterparts in the areas of reading and writing. Below are the tracked scores (2019-20 and 2020-21 were not taken due to the pandemic): 


YEAR  English/Language Arts (ELA)  Math  Science 
2017-18  67.6  62.7  N/A 
2018-19  67.7  63.1  63.8 
2021-22  64.2  58.6  61.4 
2022-23  63.9  59.7  61.6 


To prevent what Civics Alliance identifies as negative consequences of the CSDE’s standards, the group recommends reforms including adopting a “well-publicized public comment and public hearing for its academic content standards”; simplifying the standards’ format and language; removing inquiry-based learning “which facilitates arbitrary politicization”; and including reading and writing expectations.  

“Connecticut’s citizens deserve excellent social studies standards,” the report concludes. “Connecticut citizens and policymakers should work at once to make all the statutory and administrative changes necessary to make sure that the Department of Education crafts proper social studies standards for their children—standards that educate Connecticut’s children to know and to love their American birthright of liberty.” 

The CSDE has yet to publicly comment on Civics Alliance’s report.  

Andrew Fowler

Andrew Fowler joined Yankee Institute in July 2022 after four years in the communications department for the Knights of Columbus international headquarters in New Haven. In that span, he managed the organization’s social media accounts and wrote for the company’s various publications, including COLUMBIA magazine, which is delivered to nearly two million members. Additionally, he is the curator of the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center’s online exhibit “K of C Baseball: An American Story,” that explores the intricate ties between the organization and the growth of the national pastime. He was also a production assistant for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and the 2016 Dinesh D’Souza film, “Hillary’s America.” Andrew currently serves on the Milford Board of Education. He is an avid runner and basketball fan, cinephile, and an aspiring musician and author. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2015.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *