School District 51 is holding forums today and tomorrow (Wednesday, 11/15 and Thursday, 11/16) to discuss the state’s new social studies standards. The forums are today at Redlands Middle School and tomorrow at Orchard Mesa Middle School, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. each day.
So, what’s up with these forums?
Every six years, Colorado updates its social studies educational standards to reflect new state laws.
In 2021, the state legislature passed SB21-067, a law to strengthen students’ understanding of the workings of government, and provide guidance on how to engage with public officials while participating in government.
In 2022, the Colorado state Board of Education voted 4-3 to adopt new, more inclusive social studies standards (pdf). Districts are expected to implement these new standards by the fall of 2024.
The document laying out the new standards is available online, and is 145 pages long. It says, in part, that the new standards require
“…The inclusion of the history, culture, social contributions, and civil government of the United States and Colorado, including the contributions and influence of American Indians, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) individuals within these minority groups; the intersectionality of significant social and cultural features within these communities; and the contributions and persecution of religious minorities.”
These D-51 social studies forums are presumably being held to discuss these new standards.
What people are voicing concern about is that Colorado allows local school districts to adopt their own standards, and this is what happened in Woodland Park, where a new, conservative supermajority on their school board adopted the “American Birthright Standard” (ABS) put out by the Civics Alliance for their social studies standards.
What is ABS?
ABS is one of many recent right-wing efforts to overhaul public K-12 curricula to align it with the teachings of an anti-public education, right wing conservative ideology. ABS is aimed at indoctrinating children into conservative political viewpoints and instilling in them a culture war ideology that denigrates multiculturalism, opposes environmental awareness, fights diversity policies, and agitates against teaching students about race and gender issues.
ABS has been criticized by thousands of social studies professionals as too narrow and not aligning with best practices.
In a September, 2022, public statement, the National Council for Social Studies characterized American Birthright Standards as,
“…an attempt to return to a time when United States social studies classrooms presented a single narrative of U.S. and Western history that glorified selected aspects of history while minimizing the experiences, contributions, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples, people of color, women, the LGBTQIA+ community, the working class, and countless others. The writers of the suggested standards use outdated language, have a clear political motive, and promote content and approaches to social studies and history education that do not align with those recommended by experts in social studies content areas.”
In the Woodland Park school district, the adoption of ABS led to the resignation of 40% of the district’s teachers, and pushed 80 of the remaining teachers to speak out publicly against the District’s adoption of the standard, despite their school board having put in place a gag order that prohibits teachers from speaking out publicly about anything having to do with the school district. Thus every Woodland Park district teacher who spoke out against ABS knowingly risked their job by speaking up, but they all felt strongly enough about the negative effects of this standards that it was necessary for them to speak out about it and accept the risk.
ABS has been rejected by the Colorado state Board of Education and as a result, many classes taught under ABS are not transferable to colleges. This has put Woodland Park students at a disadvantage for being accepted to colleges and universities.
What we need to watch for here in School District 51
Could this happen here?
People need watch in Mesa County for: 1) the school board pushing to adopt ABS here, especially given the apparent new conservative supermajority on the school board, and 2) members of local right wing extremist groups like Stand for the Constitution dominating the informational forums about the new standards with lengthy protests against the new, more inclusive state standards. Also of concern is that if and when Barbara Evanson gets on the school board (and it looks like she will), this will give the D51 board a conservative super majority that will give them carte blanche to follow the lead of Woodland Park, which would devastate D-51 as students can no longer qualify for many colleges and university in the U.S. and D-51 teachers decide to resign en masse in protest, like they did in Woodland Park.
@pryncyss Re2 School District and what is happening here, we are trying to accept the American Birthright Standards as our public school curriculum. #re2 #garfieldcointy #Co #Colorado #americanbirthrightstandards #socialstudies #civicstudies #woodlandpark #woodlandparkcolorado #christiannationalism #christiannationalist #christiannationalismisfascist #7mountains #7mountainsofinfluence #7mountainsdominionism #7mountainsmandate #7mountainsisfascism #7mountainsisfascist #andrewwommack ♬ original sound – Pryncyss