Concerns over MDE using resources from National Council for the Social Studies, an avid supporter of Critical Race Theory, prompts public hearing on new curricula.

Following calls for a hearing by parents and other interested parties, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has announced that it will hold a public hearing about proposed revisions to the state’s academic standards for social studies at 9 a.m. on January 28th at the Mississippi Agricultural Museum Sparkman Auditorium in Jackson.

Last week, Y’all Politics called attention to the proposed changes by MDE that used the National Council for the Social Studies, an avid supporter of Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools, as their primary source for the new framework.

Read More: New social studies curriculum proposed by Mississippi Dept. of Education should raise eyebrows

MDE stated in a release today announcing the hearing that it, in consultation with Mississippi educators, periodically reviews and updates the state’s academic standards, which are called the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards (MCCRS). MDE notes that local school districts set their own curriculum.

The MCCRS for Social Studies were last updated in 2018, MDE notes.

“As schools began to implement the standards, teachers said some standards needed more clarity and the content examples distracted from objectives,” MDE stated in their release. “More than 40 Mississippi educators participated in the revision process for the 2021 social studies standards, which clarified the learning goals and identified content examples to be moved to an instructional planning guide scheduled for release in May. The core standards remain unchanged.”

MDE says that just like the 2018 social studies standards, the 2021 standards focus on the mastery of the five social studies strands: civics, economics, geography, civil rights and history. They say all learning objectives remain centered on conceptual understanding, fostering inquiry, collaboration and action, and integration of content skills.

“Mississippi educators have been implementing higher academic standards for nearly a decade, which has led to unprecedented student achievement,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “We greatly value their experience and input as we further strengthen our academic standards.”

As reported by Y’all Politics last week, MDE used resources from the National Council on the Social Studies (NCSS). The Mississippi Department of Education is seeking to implement NCSS’ College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards, integrating the C3 framework with the revised standards into the state’s K-12 schools.

The National Council on the Social Studies not only serves as a resource for curriculum but it is an advocacy group that is actively engaged in policy on the state and federal level.

According to National Review in September of this year, quoting their reports, two of the C3 Framework’s authors, Peter Levine and Meira Levinson, are leading national advocates of action civics. National Review goes on to say that the National Association of Scholars, which resolutely rejects action civics, and has convened a national alliance to oppose it, has issued a scathing critique of the NCSS C3 Framework which concludes: “Any state which has adopted the C3 Framework, or allowed the C3 Framework to shape its social studies standards, should immediately remove these standards and craft new standards.”

NCSS says a misplaced association between socialism, as understood by its opponents, and the progressive educational practices that encouraged students to think critically through inquiry became and remains a widespread misconception. The group goes on to opine that the “increasingly divisive rhetoric following the 2016 and 2020 elections has created a[n]… environment for educators in which a critique of government policy in the classroom can be perceived as unpatriotic rather than a strategy for developing independent and empowered members of the civic population.”

Earlier this year, NCSS joined nearly 80 other organizations in denouncing legislative proposals in Florida that sought to stop the spread of Critical Race Theory from being taught in public schools.

Mississippi residents wishing to speak at the hearing must register by 9 a.m. on January 25. MDE says speakers are expected to address the content of the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards for Social Studies 2021.

Feedback about the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards for Social Studies 2021 may also be submitted to the MDE in writing via email, [email protected], or mail, Mississippi Department of Education, Attn: Jen Cornett, K – 12 Social Studies Director, P.O. Box 771, Jackson, MS 39205.

The proposed changes are available through the Secretary of State website here.