Should your children’s textbooks include civil rights and climate change? Those questions may move forward when the Michigan State Board of Education reviews a draft set of revised social studies standards.
The draft is the culmination of a year filled with public hearings and work group sessions designed to update basic K-12 social studies concepts. In 2018, a focus group proposed a series of controversial changes, which included deleting references to climate change, the March on Washington and LGBT issues.
Jim Cameron is a social studies consultant for the Michigan Department of Education. He says a taskforce has since restored much of what was omitted.
“Gay rights, climate change, differences between Islam and Christianity and other world religions...and I think we have that worked out,” says Cameron.
Interpreting both historic and current issues isn’t a cut and dry process. Cameron says a special committee was formed to keep the taskforce members’ political biases in check.
“There were some contentious times,” Cameron notes. “If you believe A and somebody says D, then there's going to be some concern.”
Cameron says the new draft standards are now more generic but include more varied examples. He says that’s an attempt to foster more cultural inclusiveness and respect.
“We need to have our students wherever they are, whoever they are, wherever they’re from know that these standards relate to them,” he says.
After the State Board of Education reviews the draft, it will go up for discussion in a series of nine statewide public input sessions.
The first is scheduled for April 24 in Detroit.
A final set of standards is expected to be adopted by June.