Louisiana News

Louisiana’s new social studies standards exclude critical race theory instruction

(The Center Square) – The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved new social studies standards for K-12 schools that do not include lessons on critical race theory.

Members of the board voted unanimously this week to approve new K-12 Student Standards for Social Studies crafted by a team with the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) after a flood of complaints about critical race theory in an initial draft forced officials to rework the document.

“These standards reflect the totality of the events that have made America a truly exceptional nation and serve as a freedom framework for our children to learn about how Americans have always strived for liberty,” Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said. “We must, and we shall, teach our students to appreciate the majesty of our country and their obligations as citizens to safeguard America’s founding principles.”

The goals of the revision process were to move the standards toward a better balance between disciplinary skills and content knowledge in each of the social studies’ core disciplines: history, civics, economics and geography. Officials contended the updated standards created a more coherent sequence of content to strengthen knowledge and skills at the elementary level, to ensure students are prepared for secondary and post-secondary work and to better integrate the historical perspectives of people from different backgrounds, according to a LDOE statement.

“These standards were informed by a year of public feedback, demonstrating why an engaged, informed citizenry is essential to protecting, sustaining, and improving upon our constitutional republic,” Brumley said. “I look forward to seeing these standards come to life in classrooms across our state and, ultimately, recognizing the influence these standards will have on the State of Louisiana and the United States of America.”

Brumley extended the public comment period on the standards in December amid a flood of public comments from parents concerned about critical race theory, both for and against its inclusion. Many parents and concerned residents expressed strong opposition to teaching children racial history and social critiques that support the underlying tenet in critical race theory that America is inherently racist.

Supporters of critical race theory argued minority students deserve to learn how they fit into the country’s ugly history of racism.

Brumley, a former social studies teacher who has described the new standards as a “freedom framework,” said in a February interview that “critical race theory does not belong in K-12 education,” WWNO-FM reported.

Brumley spoke about the long, contentious process of crafting the standards shortly before Tuesday’s vote.

“We know that we set out to accomplish a feat that oftentimes seemed impossible,” Brumley said. “But I think we can all agree it always felt worthy.”

Louisiana’s current social studies standards were last updated in 2011, though they are supposed to be reviewed every seven years.

The new standards are set to take effect during the 2023-24 school year. The LDOE is expected to share more details with teachers on implementation in the coming weeks, according to WWNO.

“Once we approve these, this is when the hard work really begins,” BESE member Doris Voitier said Tuesday. “Every teacher in the state who teaches social studies will have to revise and review their entire curriculum.”

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