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"The growing diversity of the American population makes the quest for unifying ideals and a common culture all the more urgent. In a world savagely rent by ethnic and racial antagonisms, the U. S. must continue as an example of how a highly differentiated society holds itself together."
Schlesinger, Jr.

"Technicization and cultural fragmentation will continue to be a serious problem until the school curriculum is reconstructed along lines that are both common and pluralist. What we need are courses and textbooks incorporating the various strands that have forged the American culture. Students should study the development of Western civilization in order to understand where we got the ideals by which we judge ourselves. They must learn about the development of institutions, the laws, and the democratic values that all Americans share. In studying American political, economic, and social history, they should understand that all of our ancestors, whatever their race, ethnic group, or gender are part of the common story of the nation."
Diane Ravitch, "The Schools We Deserve"

America's Heritage:  An Adventure in Liberty
Curriculum Overview
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America's Heritage:  An Adventure in Liberty is a newly available, tested curriculum
supplement for Kindergarten-12th grade teachers of social studies, U. S. history, U. S. government, political science, economics, geography, speech, and/or related subjects.  Written by fellow teachers, the curriculum consists of age-appropriate and modifiable lesson plans grouped into three separate books according to level: elementary, middle, and high school. Each elementary school lesson plan correlates practically with the nationally applicable Core Knowledge Skills (grades K-6) (national edition) and/or Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) objectives (Texas edition).  Each middle and high school lesson plan correlates with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) standards (national edition), TAKS objectives, and/or Project CLEAR objectives (Texas edition).  All lessons emphasize one or more themes of freedom, unity, progress, and responsibility. The curriculum aims not simply to present historical facts but to provide opportunities for students to explore and understand the factual and philosophical significance and meaning behind events, causes, and effects—the whys—relating to and influencing the early history of the United States.

Each curriculum book includes an introductory essay regarding the curriculum rationale, lesson plans to specifically consider the American heritage themes, and activities in which students assess and analyze their own identities as Americans. The elementary school curriculum includes lessons about the colonists' experience under monarchy; the context for the writing of the Declaration of Independence; the creation of important American symbols, songs, and holidays; and the character traits modeled by great national leaders and presidents. The middle school curriculum includes lessons focusing on concepts within the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and other important texts and American symbols as well as the ideals for which many fought and sacrificed their lives. The high school curriculum includes lessons for in-depth analysis and understanding of the ideas, intentions, arguments, rights, and meanings addressed in significant texts from the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence to Federalist 47, the First Amendment, and a government letter on religious expression in public schools.  A brief summary of each lesson plan can be found at the appropriate grade-level links.

The curriculum has been evaluated in a study for performance results of students of eighth-grade social studies as indicated by the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), a test measuring American history objectives taught by schools around the nation.  Consistent with the goals of AHEF, the study showed a positive learning difference based on TAAS results with regard to historical concepts and information in students whose teachers used AHEF's curriculum, America's Heritage:  An Adventure in Liberty.  These findings demonstrate the value for teachers in using the curriculum to increase student performance as measured on the TAAS.                           

In 1995, the Texas Legislature directed the State Board of Education to implement the following law:

    The State Board of Education and each school district shall foster the continuation of the tradition of teaching United States and Texas History and the free enterprise system in regular subject matter and in the reading courses and in the adoption of textbooks. A primary purpose of the public school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage.
    Texas Education Code §28.002(h)

In support of the Texas Education Code, America's Heritage:  An Adventure in Liberty was developed by the American Heritage Education Foundation, Inc. (AHEF) in cooperation with the Houston Independent School District and the McNair Foundation.  It was first published in the spring of 1996 as a curriculum resource for middle school teachers. In 1998, work began on K-12 curriculum material which was published in 1999. A revised edition was published in 2001 and 2003 and is updated regularly. It is distributed and currently used in school districts nationwide. It can be freely downloaded at the links below and/or ordered in CD or binder format.  A Spanish Edition for elementary level is also available.

The American Heritage Education Foundation, Inc. (AHEF) is a non-profit (501.c.3) corporation dedicated to the understanding and teaching of our nation's factual and philosophical heritage to promote freedom, unity, progress, and responsibility among our students and citizens. AHEF has provided these materials to help students become thoughtful, active, and productive citizens.

(All files are in .pdf format. Adobe Acrobat is needed to view these files.)


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