Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What is Wrong With California?

There are probably many answers to that question! Here's what I'm wondering about. Have California 4th grade teachers stopped teaching about our state's history? I'm a 5th generation Californian, and I remember 4th grade, and all the amazing stories of our state. I also loved learning all about ranchos, missions, the gold rush and especially Joaquin Murrietta, the California Bandit.
At the Golden Apple, we have always kept a very large section of resources on California History. I ordered anything and everything that I thought a teacher might love. The demographics are such that there just aren't that many 4th grade teachers in a given area. Not enough to make California resources a high-traffic part of the store, but the teachers that came in appreciated our selection. When the internet came along, the first thing I put up on our site were our California materials. Finally, our huge assortment of books, music, charts etc could reach a state-wide audience!
The first disappoint was - it's hard to advertise California resources online. Every 4th grader working on his mission report clicked our google ad. The second disappoint was, even in the store, California history resources have stopped selling. Books that would sell in the dozens now sell in the 2-3 a year range.
Now bookstores love to blame Amazon for everything, but I checked - we have a better California history assortment than Amazon, at least for a 4th grade teacher.
I'm suspicious that the decline has more to do with Standardized Testing and NCLB. They're not testing on California history. No test, no teach, that is often the reality now days. That's a shame, because I can still remember our 4th grade field trip to the Irvine Ranch, our trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano, building a mission out of sugar cubes, and the crazy story of the little girl with golden curls who met the bandito Juaquin Murrieta. Kids that miss this in 4th grade don't have much chance of ever learning it again - but at least they can fill in bubbles!

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