Michigan is attempting to change their K-12 schools’ social studies standards to downplay the role of the NAACP as well as eliminate any mentions of Roe v. Wade, LGBT rights and climate change, The Bridge reports. The new standard for Michigan public schools could also remove the word “democratic” and “democracy” from the classroom.
These newly proposed standards have faced major backlash from the public. The Bridge notes some of the most notable changes under scrutiny include:
”References to the Ku Klux Klan are decreased, from two to a single reference in eighth-grade, along with a mention in a list of optional examples high school history teachers can consider when teaching about social issues between 1890 and 1930.”
”Five existing references to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have been cut, with a lone reference remaining in a section on the 1920s on its ‘legal strategy to attack segregation.’”
”The two references to gays and lesbians in the current standards, in sections dealing with the fight for rights for minority groups, have been deleted.””Both references in the current standards to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, are removed.”
“A high school standard about the expansion of civil rights and liberties for minority groups cut references to individual groups, including immigrants, people with disabilities and gays and lesbians. The new proposal includes teaching ‘how the expansion of rights for some groups can be viewed as an infringement of rights and freedoms of others.’ Colbeck told Bridge he added that phrase.”
”References to climate change are cut in the proposed standards, with the impact of man on global warming limited to an optional example sixth-grade teachers can use when discussing climate in different parts of the planet. (The standards retain a more generic reference to teaching how “human actions modify the environment.”) In notes Colbeck sent to the state board, the former aerospace engineer argues that climate change is ‘not settled science.’”
Phrases will also be changed in order to reflect a more conservative America. For example, the word “democratic” will be removed from the phrase “core democratic values.” Finally, the phrase “constitutional democracy” when discussing the U.S. form of governance will be changed to “constitutional republic.”
These controversial changes have been blamed on the influence of the Republican State Senator Patrick Colbeck who helped rewrite the standards. However, Colbeck denies his involvement in the changes according to the Detroit Free Press. He said:
“I never, never suggested that we delete any references to anything like… the stuff they’re claiming. I just said that whenever we present a view on a politically sensitive issue, we make sure we balance it with an honest perspective from the other side of the fence. I just wanted to make sure we had balance.”
He also noted that he and his conservative friends were “outnumbered” in the focus group that discussed the changes, but they still had “frank, professional” discussions. However, conservatives were not outnumbered in the focus group. In fact, no Democratic lawmakers were invited to the original revision focus group committee. Don’t worry though—education department officials told The Bridge that they felt the debates concerning the new standards were very balanced.
The proposed standards have faced such extreme backlash that the Michigan Department of Education is holding “listen and learn” sessions across the state to explain themselves to the public. The public is also allowed to voice their concerns using an online survey. According to the Department of Education, the public’s comments will be taken into account when the revisions are finalized in August.