A proposed change to the statewide social studies standards has caught the attention of the Effingham County Board of Education and the Georgia Salzburger Society.
The proposed state history to be taught to Georgia students does not include any mention of the Salzburger settlement
“We were very concerned about that,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse. “We really want to keep that in.”
School board members also discussed making a formal statement on the draft standards not including the Salzburgers.
Shearouse said he has been in contact with state Sen. Jack Hill and state Reps. Jon Burns and Bill Hitchens. He also noted how Gov. Nathan Deal has visited Effingham often and that the governor traces his lineage back to the Salzburgers.
The Georgia Salzburger Society has encouraged its membership to fill out the survey on the Georgia DoE Web site and lodge their displeasure with the proposal. The GSS has sent a letter to the state Department of Education, outlining the contributions of the Salzburger settlement and expressing the descendants’ displeasure with the offered standards not including the Salzburgers.
The letter to the state DoE about the draft standards, known as SS8H2, details the number of firsts in the state that occurred at the Ebenezer settlement and points out Georgia’s first governor, John Adam Treutlen, was from New Ebenezer. The oldest building in Georgia still intact and in continual use is the Jerusalem Lutheran Church, constructed at New Ebenezer in 1769.
The GSS’ letter also said the Ebenezer ALIVE! program has entertained and educated thousands of students from Georgia, South Carolina and Florida about the Salzburgers and the Ebenezer and New Ebenezer settlements.
“Without the information about the Salzburgers being included in the Georgia Standards for Social Studies, students no longer will have an opportunity to develop their knowledge and appreciation of Georgia’s truly rich and diverse history,” the letter by GSS president Gary Nizzi said.
The Historic Effingham Society also has written the state DoE about the proposed changes.
The revisions to the social studies and science standards have been two years in the making, according to school system testing coordinator Wendy Porter, and it had been nine years since the last revision of standards. Once adopted, the standards will go into effect for the 2017-18 school year.
The Georgia DoE is taking comments at www.georgiastandards.org and Porter said the survey asks the respondents what concerns they may have.
“The only way we can have an effect and make a difference is we take the survey,” she said.
Shearouse said removing the Salzburgers from the state standards doesn’t prohibit local middle school social studies teachers from including the Salzburger settlement in their own lessons.
“But it wouldn’t be a Georgia standard,” he said.