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Ohio High School World History Classes May Soon Be History

PHOTO: The Ohio House has until year's end to pass Senate Bill 96, to require that world history be a high school graduation requirement. Photo credit: Kenn W. Kiser/morguefile.
PHOTO: The Ohio House has until year's end to pass Senate Bill 96, to require that world history be a high school graduation requirement. Photo credit: Kenn W. Kiser/morguefile.
October 22, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The clock is ticking on efforts to save world history for Ohio high school students.

Students need to learn world history to pass the current Ohio Graduation Test, but the test will be phased out next year and replaced by exams that cover only American history and government.

Corbin Moore, president, Ohio Council for the Social Studies, says the concern is that if a "World History and Civilizations" class becomes an elective, students will not choose, or have the option, to study world history – thereby missing out on knowledge of important global events that frame current society.

"Things like the French Revolution and Napoleon, Bismarck and German and Italian unification, the Chinese civil war with the communists," Moore cites as examples. "The Holocaust, apartheid – all of those things, kids won't be exposed to."

Senate Bill 96 would add World History to the list of social studies credits required for graduation, which include American history and government. The legislation passed in the Senate this spring by unanimous vote, but has been sitting in an education committee in the House since then.

Moore says the bill will have almost no impact on the state or local budgets, does not require additional testing and is not part of Common Core standards.

"This is essential, commonsense legislation," he says. "We feel it's really important for our young citizens – before they go to college, and go off to the workplace or the military, or the ballot box – that they know what's going on outside our borders."

Moore adds today's youth need a solid foundation on the history of the world to stay competitive in an increasingly global economy.

As he puts it, "The world's more interconnected than it ever has been before, and it would be a real shame for Ohioans to not have some understanding of other world civilizations and cultures."

Ohio was given a failing grade in the Fordham Foundation's most recent (2006) research on world history standards.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH