How U.S. history is taught is a hot topic in the Carson City School District, and it will begin Tuesday's school board meeting when the winners of the trustee-sponsored American Essay Contest are announced.
The authors of the best essays at the elementary, middle and high school levels will each receive a $250 U.S. savings bonds. The topic is the First Amendment.
Following will be a review of Superintendent Mary Pierczynski's annual evaluation. The public can comment on her 2005 evaluation afterward, but all comments need to be related to the review, stressed board president Jim Hukari.
"As long as I've been around, the superintendent has always had the review publicly as part of the board meeting," he said "Like every other agenda item, we'll open it up to the public."
Carson High School teacher Joe Enge alleges that CHS students of 11th-grade U.S. history are being shortchanged by an abbreviated curriculum that begins with the Reconstruction. His proponents and detractors re reported to be planning to attend the meeting. However, there are no agendized items related to Enge's claims.
Hukari says if the issue is brought up during the public comment session, which is scheduled following Pierczynski's evaluation, the comments will be allowed, as they always have been, on the record. But the board will be unable to discuss the issue. Nevada's open-meeting law prohibits discussion on issues not on the publicized agenda. Hukari did say he will refute any false claims.
The U.S. history-content issue has been agendized once, at an April school board meeting when Karen Simms, head of the history department at Carson High, briefly addressed the allegation. Hukari says early American history is covered.
"We're teaching the Revolutionary War period during the 10th grade in world history, when the students cover the Revolutionary era - when they cover the English revolution, the American revolution and the French Revolution.
"Then in 11th grade, they begin the year with the Revolutionary War period and the founding fathers. I've been told by some teachers that this block goes on for three to five weeks.
"Then in 12th grade, when they cover the Constitution. They're talking about John Marshall and all of the founding fathers and the Constitution itself.
"And furthermore, I don't understand how any American history teacher could not be using every opportunity to make allusion to and quote from the Constitution. It seems to me there's ample opportunity to talk about the Constitution all the time.
"Joe Enge is wrong," Hukari said.
Hukari says if there were any truth to Enge's claim, he'd support him 100 percent.
Part of Enge's claim is based on a CHS course catalog description. The U.S. history course description reads: "The United States History Course is designed to provide an in-depth survey of the historical relationship of issues, events, people, ethnic groups, places, inventions, natural resources and legislation to the development of our nation. This conceptual review of the chronological historical events and their relationships will link the events beginning with the Post Civil War era to the present."
The description is reportedly going to be rewritten for next year's catalog.
If you go
WHAT: Carson City School Board of Trustees meeting
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Sierra Room of the Community Center, 851 E. William St.
• Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.