I am writing in response to the Nebraska Board of Education’s proposed action of excising significant amounts of geography material from the latest draft of the revised social studies standards.
I believe that the cuts in the geography portion of the standards would be harmful to the teaching of geography in the K-12 classrooms of Nebraska.
Incoming college students already arrive on Nebraska campuses with not enough knowledge about the world and how people and countries interact across boundaries.
For example, a portion of the standards proposed for cuts by the board deals with natural disasters and how geographers map the affected areas to aid first responders and, later, produce maps to help with cleanup efforts.
Other portions of the geography standards slated for elimination include material on our global economic interdependence. This topic affects every Nebraskan with a stake in having our agricultural and manufactured products sold on the world market, which helps to create and keep good jobs in Nebraska for our children.
Additional material highlighted for deletion in the geography standards involves learning about the population characteristics of people in Nebraska, the United States and the world. It is vital to our ability as a state reaching out to global markets that our children come to understand different religions, ethnicities, cultural and economic practices in other countries. Our students need to acquire the geographic perspective that comes from working to integrate all the social studies fields.
I believe it would hurt K-12 students in our state to remove such a large amount of geography from the state social studies standards as several board members have proposed. I hope the board will reconsider these cuts and maintain geography’s important place in Nebraska’s K-12 curriculum.
Randy Bertolas, professor of geography, Wayne State College, coordinator, Geographic Educators of Nebraska