The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) has undertaken an effort to update social studies standards for the state’s schools, causing significant backlash. As reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican:
A team of 64 educators writing updated K-12 social studies standards is informing its work through eight principles provided by the Public Education Department.
According to the PED, the process to update the standards began last summer with a committee of higher education social studies experts, who helped identify gaps in the current standards.
The “philosophical underpinnings” of the principals include:
Incorporating major historical themes, such as power, class conflict, struggle, geopolitical impact, social justice, diversity through content standards designed to teach these topics in developmentally appropriate ways.
Developing student agency and leadership employability skills, critical thinking applied to histories, stories and the long-term impact of political decisions.
Ensuring divergence from a singular Eurocentric cultural script ensuring equitable inclusion of accurate historical stories … reflecting Indigenous, Hispano/Latino, Chicano, Mestizo, African American and other cultural perspectives.
Identifying tools to share authentic stories including the study of relationship between power and oppression.
Supporting the developing of a strong critical historical consciousness representative of many perspectives while allowing students to maintain his/her/their own cultural integrity while learning about others.
Empowering students to develop pride in his/her/their identity, history, culture, region by incorporating a community based approach while preparing students to be part of a global environment.
Utilizing historical events from a future-focused orientation.
Developing a future-focused orientation that allows students to be critical thinkers in considering historical context in mending, healing, and transforming future interactions. (https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/education/updating-new-mexicos-social-studies-standards-becomes-political-clash/article_ac7729a4-cf83-11eb-9f92-4f3b3e1aa446.html)
The PED hopes to roll out its new social studies standards in 2022.
In response, Republican lawmakers in June requested a public hearing on what they called the “secretive PED effort to require critical race theory in classrooms.” (https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/non-local-news-releases/65628-lawmakers-request-public-hearing-on-secretive-ped-effort-to-require-critical-race-theory-in-classrooms)
In September 2021, the Montezuma-Cortez School Board passed a resolution opposing CRT in school curriculum and established a committee to examine current standards. (https://www.durangoherald.com/articles/montezuma-cortez-school-board-passes-resolution-opposing-critical-race-theory/)
A whistleblower showed the Albuquerque School District social studies curriculum to be centered around Critical Theory interpretations of American history. (https://twitter.com/ConceptualJames/status/1413190866705989638)
In September and October, several school districts approved resolutions asking PED to pause their proposed social studies changes, after concerns about CRT were raised. (https://www.qcsunonline.com/story/2021/10/20/news/boards-petition-to-pause-update/22926.html) (https://www.alamogordonews.com/story/community/2021/09/24/aps-approves-petition-social-studies-standard-addresses-crt/5833605001/) (https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/education/2021/10/02/studies-standards-open-comment-carlsbad-schools-request-more-time/5923231001/)
A public meeting of the PED in November led to significant protests against the proposed changes. (https://www.abqjournal.com/2445731/culture-clash-comes-to-class-ex-peds-new-social-studies-standards-stir-up-strong-sentiments.html)
The New Mexico Higher Education Department has also begun reimagining its next strategic plan that will view desired outcomes through an equity lens. It is still gathering information, but has published equity resources and invited feedback on what should be in the strategic plan. (https://hed.state.nm.us/higher-education-strategic-planning)