The Hawaii Department of Education is dropping its controversial recommendation that the state cut its high school social studies requirements from four to three credits.

A memo to the Board of Education posted online late Wednesday and dated Sept. 20 reverses the department’s June 21 recommendation to reduce the number of required social studies courses.

The department’s explanation for the reduction was that it would give students an additional elective credit, thereby granting them more flexibility to tailor their high school experience to their individual interests. It provides no explanation for its decision to reverse itself.

The initial recommendation raised the ire of social studies advocates all over the state, and hundreds have submitted testimony to the board opposing the change. Several others, including author, education advocate and Presidential sibling Maya Soetoro-Ng, submitted opinion pieces to Civil Beat on the subject.

While the new recommendation does reinstate the fourth social studies credit, per public outcry, it now omits U.S. history and world history from the requirements.

Until now, the department has required that three of the four credits be fulfilled by:

  • Modern History of Hawaii (half-credit)
  • Participation in a Democracy (half-credit)
  • U.S. History and Government (full credit)
  • World History and Culture (full credit)

The fourth credit requirement is fulfilled by any one of a dozen social studies course options.

But the “Sept. 20” memo to the board stipulates that beginning with the graduating class of 2016, course requirements will include:

(4) Four credits of social studies (including Modern History of Hawaii [.5
credit], Participation in Democracy [.5 credit] and three other history
and/or social science courses [3 credits] such as U.S. History, World
AP Psychology OR newly-developed standards proficiency-based

(emphasis added)

The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the department’s revised recommendation on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

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