Sixty-six people were registered to speak at the event, most concerned with CRT creeping into school curriculum.
Earlier this month, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) proposed a new curriculum for College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) for Social Studies in K-12 public schools. The Department had planned to have the changes implemented by the 2022-2023 school year.
Notice of the proposed changes were given on December 16th and submitted to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office as required. 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.
READ MORE: New social studies curriculum proposed by Mississippi Dept. of Education should raise eyebrows
Due to enough public outcry, MDE filed notice of a public comment hearing.
Today, MDE held that public hearing in front of a packed house at the Agriculture Department auditorium. As of January 25, the registered deadline, 66 people were registered to speak.
Each speaker was given three minutes to present their points and were asked to list the standard number(s) and page number(s) for the proposed revisions they were commenting on.
Speakers ranged from current and retired teachers, concerned parents and family members, Mississippi residents, a congressional political candidate, a former out of state elected official, current and former students, a minister, and more. No matter what organization they were with or what they represented, they wanted to make sure that their voices were heard, most went on to say.
Concerns centered around the State Board of Education’s move to make these changes behind closed doors, the removal of certain critical information from history, the lack of definitions for certain terms, and much more.
Speakers said that the proposed revisions removed parts of history including Natural Law, terms such as ‘Constitution’ and ‘patriotism,’ and the concept of America’s founding fathers. They asked questions such as what the “real reason” for changing the curriculum was and why scripture has been removed from the curriculum.
One speaker noted that schools need to focus on history and learning from our past, but the proposed changes would not allow for that. Another said children will be able to benefit from more access and resources.
Among the speakers was State Senator Michael McLendon (R). McLendon talked about a bill he authored, SB 2113, which passed the Senate last week.
READ MORE: Mississippi Legislature takes on Critical Race Theory in public schools
McLendon said that the bill states that no one is inferior or superior to another regardless of sex, race, religion, ethnicity or origin. He previously said the bill is a change on an administrative level he had been contacted about by many constituents.
The Senator added during floor discussions that SB 2113 would not prevent students from learning the history that pertains to racism and slavery.
According to a handout provided at the public comment hearing, MDE, in consultation with Mississippi educators, periodically review and update the state’s academic standards called the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards. The academic standards outline the skills and knowledge expected of students in each grade and subject. However, local school districts set their own curriculum and choose their own instructional material.
MDE says that they convened more than 40 educators to participate in the revision process for the 2021 social studies standards. They stated that the revisions clarified the learning goals while the core standards remained the same.
The Department said that they made changes in consultation with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Civil Rights in Education Committee, the Mississippi Council on Economic Education, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
Those who would like to comment further on the standards may submit their feedback in writing to MDE by February 4, 2022, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to the Mississippi Department of Education, Attn: Jen Cornett, K-12 Social Studies Director, P.O. Box 771, Jackson, MS 39205.
You can learn more about the National Council for the Social Studies, a major part of the proposed framework, here.