Parents need to weigh in on DPI’s proposed social studies standards changes

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) is requesting comment and input in its proposed changes to the state’s social studies standards. Every parent with a K-12 child should consider weighing in.

NCDPI released its fourth draft of social studies standards and the public can comment on them. The comment period began Monday, Nov. 16, and will end on Friday, Dec. 4.

NCDPI, Social Studies, Feelings, HIstory, NC Board of EducationThe slow creep to inject Black Lives Matter racial justice themes into NC schools has become more of a trot.

As I have been documenting, these standards are being changed to allow the infusion of social and racial justice curriculum to be utilized at every level of K-12.

To better understand why these changes are controversial and need to be criticized, please check out Dr. Terry Stoops’ recent article titled, “State Board of Education should reject cynical and divisive social studies standards.

In his article, Stoops catches an errant note on page two of the fourth revision:

The mystery note declares that white teachers will only be interested in focusing on “white perspective/individuals,” rather than the experiences of “individuals that were not in power.” It also implies that white teachers will purposefully exclude “negative examples of white supremacy like slavery, groups like the KKK, Indian removal, sharecropping” unless the standards compel white educators to include them.

It has been no secret certain board members have been pushing for Critical Race Theory to be integrated into NC’s standards and curriculum. One member of the board has gone as far as to suggest students and staff alike could benefit from ‘white privilege training’.

Make some coffee, commenting will take some time

WARNING – The process of commenting on these standards is labor-intensive, awkward and meant to frustrate the general public from engaging in the process. Be ready to spend a good half of an hour navigating a single grade level.

Note that I was unable to locate any book or materials lists suggested for supporting these standards changes. We already have seen that NCDPI’s “resources” for certain social studies topics include links to the Zinn Ed Project, a website dedicated to perpetuating Communist Howard Zinn’s revisionist history and anti-American propaganda. There may be such a list, but it is more likely NCDPI will leave that up to the districts, many of which are using the racist and biased materials from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s education propaganda arm, Teaching Tolerance.

As a point of fact, NCDPI is indeed letting districts do what they want and characterize the standards as “conceptual in nature.” From their own documentation:

These standards and objectives are not intended to be the curriculum, nor do they indicate the whole of a curriculum which will be written by a local public-school unit (LEA) or school. The standards for this course have been developed to serve as the framework which will guide each LEA in the development of the curriculum for their standard and honors level courses for American History.

The standards of this course are conceptual in nature and have been organized around five disciplinary strands and a skill strand designed to promote inquiry. Every student following the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for Social Studies will engage in rigorous academic courses inclusive of multiple ideas, viewpoints, and perspectives that prepare them with the knowledge, understanding, and skills needed to productively live and engage in a multicultural and globally competitive society.

Talk about leaving the door open for inconsistency and carte blanche for interpretation.

Inquiry Indicators: Turning students into activists

All of the standards contain variations of “Inquiry Indicators” which are to be used in implementing the standards. When taken as a whole, these indicators are spurring students into activism.  Below is an example of the “Inquiry Indicators” for grades 3-5. Note the final entry: Taking Informed Action.

Using the Grade 5 revision document as an example, here are some things to look for:

Question: Do the standards support students’ cultural self-awareness – the recognition of one’s social identities and the ways in which those identities intact to shape sense of self and experiences (Goodman, 2011).  (YES) or (NO)

After you select an answer it asks you to explain. The response I had and that others I consulted about this question was basically: Are we learning historical fact or are we focused on feelings?

Question: Do the standards support students’ engagement in ongoing self-examination to excavate how one’s identities inform their understanding of and experiences with complex social problems (Yes) or (No)

My reaction was similar to the previous question. Most kids in fifth grade at 10 to 11 years old. They don’t self-examine. Not to mention they have little context or cumulative experiences yet. This line of questioning is about manipulating feelings, not about understanding factual history.

Another question, in fifth grade, asked if the standards are “inclusive and reflect the cultural repertoire, practices and contributions of diverse communities in ways both traditional and evolving.” The standard writers also seemed obsessed as to whether or not the standards were “inclusive and avoid stereotypic depictions in terms of race, gender or ability/disability.”

Other questions in the earlier grades included ridiculously age-inappropriate questions involving introspection and calls to action.

Had enough? Ready to do the heavy lift? Here are the links one will need:

  • The comment portal is HERE. This page includes links to all the past revisions.
  • The implementation timeline is HERE.
  • The current social studies standards can be found HERE.

Concerned parents and members of the public who want additional information should also consider contacting Dr. Lori Carlin, Section Chief, K-12 Social Studies and Arts Education, at lori.carlin@dpi.nc.gov or 984.236.2883.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
This entry was posted in EDUCATION, LL1885, NC Board Of Education, NC DPI, NC State Standards and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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