Feedback on Race & History Studies by the NM PED

If one were to read social media posts one would think the PED had directed a complete rewrite of history and all history classes in Néw Mexico teach only of racism in America and nothing else.

Now onward to the truth. Of those protesting and posting how many have actually recently audited an elementary, middle school or high school history class? How many have actually sat down with a history or social studies teacher and asked what curriculum they are actually teaching? Very few is the answer.

We reached out and asked a local history teacher their feelings on the public outrage and did she feel she is being directed to indoctrinate theory’s related to critical race or other controversial subject matters into her curriculum?

She responded no that she teaches “history pure and simple.” She admitted American history is complicated, “we have many many things to be proud of and we have opportunities our history points out that we can and should learn from.”

I asked was she being forced to teach any specific liberal or conservative doctrine? She said, “no I teach history.”

The state Public Education Department is updating its social studies standards for the first time in more than 20 years, and has asked for input. Input a welcome change verses closed door dialog and back room discussions on what educational curriculum should include.

Rather than create histeria that dialog is happening and public input is sought let’s embrace this new transparency which is not how curriculum decisions were made 2 decades ago. 

In speaking with representatives in Santa Fe we were told the agency hopes to release updates  standards that had extensive public input in the next year along with professional development modules before fully implementing updated standards for the 2022-23 school year.

“The work we are doing is about inclusion, not exclusion and with feedback and input of the public”says Deputy Education Secretary Gwen Perea Warniment said in a statement. She issued a statement that the goal  is to include important and previously missing perspectives and making sure our standards tell the stories of all our diverse communities and their contributions to the state and the nation.

The debate reached a crescendo Friday, with state public education officials hearing a wide range of views from more than 90 teachers, parents, school board members and legislators during a remote public hearing that lasted for more than five hours and took place after a GOP-backed rally against the standards dialog.

The debate over the proposed New Mexico social studies standards comes amid rising national scrutiny of how schools teach racial conflicts and inequalities in American history – and how they’ve shaped the nation.

In all, more than 1,000 people submitted written public comments on the standards before a Friday deadline, with those comments filling more than 1,400 pages as of Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Public Education Department said.

Public Education Secretary-designate Kurt Steinhaus said this week the department would consider all the feedback it gets before deciding whether to modify and adopt the standards.

The new social studies standards were crafted by a group of more than 60 educators from around New Mexico, who began their work in February.

If approved in the next two months, the standards would not take effect until fall 2023.

PED Deputy Secretary Gwen Perea Warniment also insisted critical race theory is NOT included in the standards.

She said once the proposal of standards is adopted, in their current form or after being revised, local school districts with local school board approval around New Mexico will be able to decide how to craft courses to teach them.

Thus the power still remains at the local level.

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