W.Va. Schools Chief: Plan To Cut History Classes Should Be History


West Virginia’s public schools superintendent wants the state Board of Education not to reduce the number of social studies courses required for high school graduation.

Superintendent Steve Paine said in a statement Monday that he will make the recommendation based on an overwhelming response to the proposal.

Last month the Board of Education placed the overall high school credits proposal up for public comment through Jan. 24. It is aimed at giving more flexibility to counties and allow high school credits to be tailored for individual students.

The proposal would reduce the number of required social studies courses in favor of other courses such as career technical education and computer science. It would essentially require students to study all of U.S. history in one course instead of two and reduce the number of required social students credits from four to three.

The overall proposal would still require 22 credits for graduation. Paine wants to keep the number of social studies credits at four.

“This review has brought a vigorous response from the public and, most importantly, our educators,” Paine said in the statement. “The majority of these comments are centered around proposed changes to the social studies credits. This level of response is a reflection of the importance of this issue.”

The statement said Paine and the board “are committed to being responsive to the concerns of the public and respect the expertise of our classroom teachers.”

Tega Toney, vice president of the American Federation of Teachers’ West Virginia chapter, said on Twitter that Paine’s decision was “the right move. We should value social studies classes for a myriad of reasons, but especially for safeguarding our democracy, fostering critical analysis, and cultivating a solid citizenship for the future.

“More humanities, not less.”

The policy was previously proposed and abandoned after officials said public comments were overwhelming against the change.

The board and Department of Education have pushed for the single course known as U.S. Studies Comprehensive since at least 2016. Previously, students had to take a course that covered U.S. history up to World War I and then another course that covered material left out of that course.

The proposal also would nix the current requirement that students take a world studies course and would allow students to take other social studies classes to replace the currently required civics course. The same proposal would also stop requiring counties to offer economics and geography, in addition to offering the two courses summarized in U.S. Studies Comprehensive.