MDE says 158 revisions were made to the standards but do they adequately address the concerns of public school parents, community members?

Following a report by Y’all Politics in December 2021 noting the proposed changes in the state’s social studies curriculum that used resources from the National Council on the Social Studies (NCSS), the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) held a hearing in January 2022 to gain comments as the public outcry grew.

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

Little was known about the proposed changes until questions were raised regarding the sources of the materials, particularly the National Council of the Social Studies.

That January public hearing was in front of a packed house at the Agriculture Department auditorium.

Now, on Thursday, the Mississippi Department of Education announced that the State Board of Education (SBE) has voted to begin the Administrative Procedures Act process on the proposed 2022 Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards (MCCRS) for Social Studies.

MDE says the 2022 standards update the 2018 standards, which was the intent with the previous version as well. Just like the current social studies standards, MDE says the 2022 standards focus on the mastery of the five social studies strands: civics, economics, geography, civil rights and history.

How the standards are taught, including the curriculum or methods and materials used, is decided at the local school district level, MDE points out.

How we got here

In 2020, MDE convened a group of Mississippi educators to revise the 2018 MCCRS for Social Studies. Once the revisions were complete, the MDE sought public feedback about the 2021 draft MCCRS for Social Studies.

MDE says some 349 members of the public submitted written comments from December 17, 2021, through February 4, 2022, and 43 people provided feedback during the public hearing held on January 28, 2022.

Since then, the MDE says that it convened a group of 62 social studies educators from all four of Mississippi’s congressional districts, seven postsecondary faculty and 10 MDE content experts as an educator review committee to review all public input and determine whether further revisions were needed. The social studies teachers consulted with an additional 181 educators within their school districts as part of their review and revision work.

From June through August 2022, the educator review committee worked to review, evaluate and respond to all public comments. The committee examined whether the suggested changes aligned to critical content students should know and be able to do, whether the standard needed clarity or rewording to promote understanding and whether each standard was in the appropriate sequence.

Where we are now

Based on public input and the educator review committee’s work, MDE reports that the 2022 MCCRS for Social Studies includes 158 revisions to the 2021 draft version.

The primary revisions include the restoration of content examples that were initially identified to be moved to an instructional planning guide, the reordering of some standards, and rewording and clarifications to promote understanding.

However, parents and readers of the curriculum who were critical of the initial standards may not be completely pleased with the revisions.  In reading the new standards, it is quickly seen that the educator review committee’s recommendations were readily taken over the public comments provided to MDE.

In addition, each time a public comment questioned whether it supported Critical Race Theory, the educator review committee is seen noting, “No change needed. Standard does not support Critical race Theory and/or Marxist point of view.”

However, the National Council for the Social Studies: College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12
Civics, Economics, Geography, and History remains as one of the references used to develop the latest revision.

About the National Council for the Social Studies: A refresher

As previously reported by Y’all Politics, 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. They have published position statements on contextualizing LGBT history in schools, “human rights,” and many other topics.

 

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. As Dr. Alan Stringer, a professor at Hofstra University, wrote in the LI Herald in June, the groups said the bills infringed on “the right of faculty to teach and of students to learn”; “substitute political mandates for the considered judgment of professional educators”; and were designed to prevent an “honest reckoning with all aspects” of America’s past.

Learn more about the National Council on the Social Studies here.

 

How you can review the new standards

The proposed 2022 Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards (MCCRS) for Social Studies are posted by MDE here. The document also includes the public comments and the educator review committee recommendations to the revised standards.

If approved, the 2022 MCCRS for the Social Studies will be implemented during the 2023- 24 academic school year.

Public comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. on October 29th.

For more information on the proposal and instructions for submitting comments, click here.