Re: Women 's history and future

Elizabeth Homer (
Wed, 15 Apr 1998 20:41:21 -0500

Linda Purrington wrote:

> What do you say? --let's talk about the future and what it will=
take to
> get us there up at the front of the bus? Because sure as shooting, if w=
> sit on our history, it will not take us much further.... I think we nee=
d >to get actually active as well as virtually active.

Here's the status of Women's History in Michigan. How many states
have a core curriculum that drives the local curriculum? I also
recommend the Women's Book Project as an activist way to get schools
buying women's books and books about women.

Michigan=92s new core curriculum, approved in 1995, will guide our
system for years to come, therefore it was unfortunate that we did not
include the role,
contributions and history of women. Given the long tradition of
ignoring women=92s part in
all fields of human endeavor, we believe that it must be addressed
directly. Because the
Department of Education=92s Social Studies Panel failed to include
women=92s history in the
Standards recommendations, the State Board of Education, at that time
having a majority
of conservatives, did not include the Standards and additions to the
benchmarks suggested
below and the additions to the benchmarks. Perhaps this idea was just
a victim of bad
timing. Whatever the reason, there is no systematic approach in
Michigan schools
for remedying the sex discrimination of omitting women=92s history from
the core
The NOW Education Task Force, Michigan Women=92s Studies Association
other women=92s organizations proposed the following recommendation to
ensure women
are included in the social studies curriculum as the standards are
currently construed:

The board of a school district shall provide a social studies
curriculum and
instructional program which will enable all students to understand the
role in
history of American women and their historic contributions to the
growth and
strength of our Nation.

In the core curriculum preface, the relationship between knowledge,
and attitudes is discussed and the critical contribution of social
studies to our democratic
society is recognized. For this very reason, it is time to address
women=92s studies directly.
The Social Studies Core Curriculum follows the National Standards,
which do not
address women=92s role directly. We should not let this influence us.=20
The benchmarks can
still be modified. Our proposal is simply to include the women=92s
movement (and all its
fascinating facets) in the existing benchmarks.

The eras in United States History should include The Meeting of Three
(beginning to 1620), Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763),
Revolution and the
New Nation (1754-1815), Expansion and Reform (1801-1861), The American
Women=92s Movement (1848-1920), and the Civil War and Reconstruction
The eras in United States History should include The Development of
Industrial United States (1870-1900), The Emergence of Modern America
(1890-1930), The American Women=92s Movement (1920-present), The Great
Depression and World War II (1929-1945), Postwar United States
Contemporary United States (1968 - present).

Even without the mandate of the core curriculum, many educators are
taking small
steps to incorporate women=92s history into their teaching, but text
books still lag behind.=20
This problem is compounded by the lack of educational material
available in the school
media centers and libraries. "Crossing the Millennium The Women's
Book Project," is a
grassroots effort to increase the number of books about women and
women's history in
our school libraries and media centers. This project, which will
continue through the year
2000, simply encourages groups to buy books about women and women's
history and give
them to the schools. Consider these findings:
A study in the early 90s by our state's Office for Sex Equity in
found that 81 percent of autobiographies and biographies in the
schools were
about men. Seventy percent about sports were about men.
The books about sports were In 1994 the National Women's History
reported finding only 15 percent of the nation's schools currently
invest anything at
all in teaching women's history. Among those that do, the average
purchase was
only $40, and that was for the entire school.
A brochure about the Women=92s Book Project may be obtained from the
Women=92s Studies Association or any of the member organizations of the
Women=92s Assembly or from Alpha Kappa Delta, the teachers=92 sorority.=20
Thousands of
dollars=92 worth of books have been donated to schools by these
organizations to correct the
imbalance in educational materials in the schools.
Of course there is nothing to prevent a school district from adding
the social
studies standard and benchmarks for teaching women=92s history, as
suggested above.=20
And there is no time like the present to begin a purchasing program to
inequities in books and media material.

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