Maryland county to ‘transform’ social studies curriculum to strengthen kids’ ‘sense of racial’ identity
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An anti-racism audit being conducted by Maryland’s largest school district seeks to “transform” its social studies curriculum for pre-K-12 students in order to strengthen their “sense of racial, ethnic and tribal identities.”
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) launched its “Antiracist System Audit” last year to address racial barriers in its existing policies and practices. Last week, interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight provided an update on the audit, saying the district had met with students, families, staff and community members to get input on the audit and further actions that should be taken.
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MCPS said the audit focuses on six key areas, including workforce diversity, work conditions, equity curriculum review, equity achievement and community engagement. Under the curriculum review portion, MCPS said it intends to review the pre-K-12 curriculum, specifically social studies, “through an antiracist lens.”
“We have heard from our students over time about how Social Studies is taught and negates a full picture of the context that addresses African American history and many of the contributions made by African Americans,” the MCPS website says. “We had students sit at this table and speak to us about Columbus Day.”
This summer, a cross-office team was charged with creating a long-term plan to transform curriculum and develop interconnected and interdisciplinary learning experiences for students, pre-K-12 that strengthens students’ sense of racial, ethnic and tribal identities, helps students understand and resist systems of oppression, and empowers students to see themselves as change agents. “
The description was first highlighted Saturday by National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar, who called it “critical race theory in a nutshell.”
In a statement to Gadget Clock Digital, MCPS said it does not teach students the “decades-old framework” known as critical race theory (CRT) and does not promote “the blaming or shaming of white students for the actions of others.”
The district also does not “shy away from its long-standing commitment to provide students with the tools to explore the evolution of our nation, its institutions and polices through a lens that accurately reflects the experience of all communities and cultures,” the district said. .
“The MCPS curriculum strives to teach a full and factual history of the American experience, including events and policies that have contributed to structural racism,” it continued. “It does not promote the blaming or shaming of white students for the actions of others. Instead, we encourage all students to consider the past, examine their present, and work to be allies with one another to make a better future free from the racist.” practices, attitudes and systems of the past. “
McKnight said in her Feb. 2 letter that the next phase of the audit is to hear from community members through surveys and focus groups. She said the findings will be shared with the public by June.
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“It is not lost on us that we write this letter from the MCPS ‘headquarters in the Carver Educational Services Center building,” McKnight wrote. “This historical place used to be the school where every Black high school student from across Montgomery County needed to attend regardless of where they lived. This fact reminds us that racism was built into our core structures.
“However, we are sitting in this building as leaders of a district that is now one of the most diverse and successful in the country,” she said. “We are hopeful that we can use this audit to re-envision a school district where all students, families and staff feel safe, valued, seen, heard and successful.”
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