History, the Sequel

A controversial new set of recommendations generates a debate on what's important about America's past

"Knowledge of history is the precondition of political intelligence. Without history, a society shares no common memory of where it has been ((or)) what its core values are."

So, laudably, write the authors of National Standards for United States History, a federally funded curriculum guide that was issued last week with impressive auspices -- and amid swirling controversy. The 271-page document outlines what students in three grade groupings (five to six, seven to eight, nine to 12) should know about the American past. The guide compartmentalizes U.S. history into 10 eras, from the beginnings until 1620 to contemporary $ America, and...

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