The Senate last week denounced the national history standards for what members said was a failure to respect the contributions of Western civilization, voting 99 to 1 for a non-binding amendment expressing their disapproval.
The unexpected amendment was attached to a bill that would make it more difficult for Congress to impose mandates on state and local governments without paying to implement them. (See Education Week, 01/18/95.)
Both the House and Senate are expected to continue debate on the bill this week.
As introduced by Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., the standards amendment would have barred federal funds from being used to certify the voluntary national standards in U.S. and world history that have been developed with federal backing.
A compromise was reached to weaken it to a “sense of the Senate” amendment urging that the standards not be certified.
“This set of standards must be stopped, abolished, repudiated, repealed,” Mr. Gorton said.
A Democratic aide said the vote reflected a bipartisan sense that the “current standards, as they are, need some work.”
Revisions Already Planned
The educators who developed the history standards have acknowledged that some omissions and errors were made, and had agreed earlier this month to make some revisions. (See Education Week, 01/18/95.)
“We continue to find ways to improve the standards,” Gary B. Nash, the director of the project, said.
Still, some of the votes may have been based on misleading information, including Mr. Gorton’s claim that “the Constitution is not mentioned in the 31 core standards.” The U.S. Constitution is addressed 177 times in the document, including two separate subsections devoted to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
In unrelated action last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 15 to 3 to endorse a bill that would amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget by 2002. Five Democrats supported the bill, which is expected to reach the House floor later this month.
The House Judiciary Committee approved its version of the bill Jan. 11, on a 20-to-13 party-line vote, and the House is scheduled to debate it this week.
The two bills differ in that the House version would require a three-fifths majority of Congress to approve tax increases. The Senate version would require a simple majority.
A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 1995 edition of Education Week as Senate Approves Resolution Denouncing History Standards