Despite using NCSS and its “action civics” C3 Framework as a main resource, Dr. Wright tells Mississippi Senate Education Committee Critical Race Theory is not in K-12 schools.

During a Senate Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, Dr. Carey Wright, State Superintendent of Education, discussed the Department’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request, 2022 legislative priorities, ESSER and ARPA funding, COVID-19 response, and more.

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) 2020-21 Superintendent’s Annual Report was released on Monday and showed historic academic gains in recent years as Mississippi students, teachers and school leaders persisted through the pandemic.

In the 2020-21 report, the graduation rate reached an all-time high of 87% and the dropout rate in Mississippi fell to a historic low of 8.8%.

Yet, a key topic of discussion revolved around the Mississippi Department of Education’s proposed new social study standards. Notice of the proposed changes were given on December 16th and submitted to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, but no hearing was planned prior to the adoption of the new standards. 

READ MORE: New social studies curriculum proposed by Mississippi Dept. of Education should raise eyebrows

Following calls for a hearing by parents and other interested parties, MDE has announced that it will hold a public hearing about the 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.

READ MORE: Miss. Dept. of Education will hold hearing on new social studies curriculum following public outcry

Had that notice not been shared more widely, few, if any, would have known of the proposed changes. Those changes are available through the Secretary of State’s website here.

State Senator Brice Wiggins (R) said he thinks many people in the committee room were “very, very” concerned about the fact that MDE issued the notice on the change with no hearing provided for which led to a number of questions and concerns from parents and lawmakers.

Wiggins said the way MDE released the new standards is “tone deaf” given what is happening nationally on the issue.

“Second,” Senator Wiggins said, “the fact that there’s even any interest in or connection to Critical Race Theory in these standards is absolutely crazy, considering everything that’s going on in the country right now.”

Responding to Sen. Wiggins regarding MDE’s handling of the Social Studies standards and how they came about, Dr. Wright said the revisions made were requested by teachers. Wright also said that what went out for notice did not include CRT and she does not know how it “got turned into Critical Race Theory.”

“We are not teaching Critical Race Theory in our social studies standards. Period. The end,” Dr. Wright told lawmakers. 

Wright added that MDE does not dictate curriculum. She said curriculum is adopted at the local level. States, Wright says, adopts standards and then the local boards decide what materials to use to meet those standards.

The State Superintendent said CRT is not a K-12 concept but added that it may be taught in some of Mississippi’s colleges, universities and law schools.

However, the concern over the new MDE social studies framework was raised after it was discovered that MDE was using 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.

“In the C3 Framework, ‘action civics’ matters more than fundamental knowledge and promotes the central concept of the ‘Inquiry Arc,'” Ocean Springs School Board member Kacee Waters wrote recently in an op-ed.

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.

Last 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.

According to National Review in September, 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.”