Public hearing set on social studies standards

Possible changes in the state’s academic standards for social studies in K-12 education will be heard in a public hearing to be held by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). 

The state education department announced the hearing would be from 9 a.m.-12 noon on Friday, Jan. 28 at the Mississippi Agricultural Museum Sparkman Auditorium in Jackson. The proposed changes are available through the Mississippi Secretary of State website.

The proposed moves in social studies studies have come under scrutiny from some groups, including the Mississippi Federation of Republican Women or MFRW. The state Republican Women, of which Kimberly Remak of Olive Branch is president, questions the proposals. Her group wants funding prohibited for any curriculum that includes Critical Race Theory. 

Reports were that a primary source for the new framework, the National Council for the Social Studies, has been connected as a supporter of Critical Race Theory.

The Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards (MCCRS) outline the skills and knowledge expected of students in each grade and subject and MDE stressed that local school districts set their own curriculum.

The last update for the social studies curriculum was in 2018.  Some teachers said some standards needed more clarity and the content examples distracted from objectives. 

More than 40 Mississippi educators participated in the revision process for the 2021 social studies standards, which clarified the learning goals and identified content examples to be moved to an instructional planning guide scheduled for release in May. The core standards remain unchanged. 

MDE said the 2021 standards focus on the mastery of the five social studies strands: civics, economics, geography, civil rights and history. 

“Mississippi educators have been implementing higher academic standards for nearly a decade, which has led to unprecedented student achievement,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “We greatly value their experience and input as we further strengthen our academic standards.”

Mississippi residents wishing to speak at the hearing must register by 9 a.m. Jan. 25. Speakers are expected to address the content of the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards for Social Studies 2021. 

Feedback about the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards for Social Studies 2021 may also be submitted to MDE in writing via email, jcornett@mdek12.org, or mail, Mississippi Department of Education, Attn: Jen Cornett, K – 12 Social Studies Director, P.O. Box 771, Jackson, MS 39205 .

A bill has been entered in the state Legislature, labeled as House Bill 437 and named the TRUE Act, that would prevent MDE and local districts from teaching concepts that would be considered as Critical Race Theory. State Rep. Becky Currie (R-Brookhaven) is an author of the bill.  TRUE Act is named as the “Teaching Racial and Universal Equality” Act.  

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