The State Board of Education has tapped the brakes on the revision of state social studies standards. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction usually reviews standards in each subject area every few years. This year however concerns about whether the standards were sufficiently inclusive or spoke to the lives of all students prompted the State Board of Education to punt the task of rewriting the standards to later this year or early next year.
To show its sensitivity to the concerns about inclusion the State Board of Education published a statement relevant to the task. It reads:
When planning, teaching and learning, educators are expected to include diverse histories, experiences, and perspectives of racial, ethnic, gender, and identity minority groups, as well as marginalized, undervalued, and underrepresented groups including, but not limited to: African-Americans; Indigenous Populations; Women; Latinx; Asian-Americans; MENA-Americans; and LGBTQ+ in order to create an inclusive school community where students are respected, valued and welcome participants. Students come from a variety of social, racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds and deserve to learn and be empowered by the historical experiences and contributions of multiple groups.
What does that paragraph mean? It’s hard to ignore the paragraph recites totems of the Left: race, ethnicity, gender and identity. It echoes the themes of marginalization and subjugation; constant themes of Critical Theory which advocates not improvement but overthrowing the oppressor. The focus on groups as opposed to individuals is at odds with the fundamental ideas of America and its emphasis on the individual. How is that squared?
We’re told we need to expand the teaching of history to include more diverse perspectives. But what does that mean? But what is a perspective? Is it someone’s point of view? Is it the ideas expressed in a source? Is it acknowledging that years ago people thought differently about things than we do now? Are perspective and point of view the same?
The State Board of Education recently approved a resolution that calls for Equity in Education. We’re told that equity is equality of opportunity and that we have an imperative duty to construct anti-racist systems. More obsession with race, identity and distribution of resources. Again, who will decide when “equity is grounded in every aspect of the school environment”? Doing so makes explicit achievement derives from access or lack of access to resources. That’s false but it conveniently puts government in charge of correcting all inequities and injustices.
Telling the American story is an important task. It’s also imperfect. It’s an imperfect story because we are an imperfect country. The second clause of the Preamble of the US Constitution states, We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union. We’re not perfect. We are a nation based on aspirations such as equality, happiness, liberty and justice. We fail to achieve those aspirations. However, it shouldn’t doom us as a nation. Some don’t see it that way. They say systemic racism makes the US a flawed nation. History must tell the uncomfortable stories of slavery and the KKK, but it can’t stop there. It must also tell the story of the Civil War and the Abolitionist movement, the end to segregation and the Civil Rights movement. Can such movements flourish in a flawed racist nation? Efforts to demonize or lionize are both flawed and ignore inconvenient truths. How do we tell the story? It’s not either, or. But both, and.
How do we decide? The American story must be expanded. How, is what we must figure out. Does the story help us form a more perfect union? Does it make us one out of many? Answers to those questions will help us get us started. They will also remind us that we all are the caretakers of the American story.