A Republican member of the Colorado State Board of Education will introduce an amendment Wednesday for her colleagues to consider a set of social studies standards modeled after Florida’s guidelines that emphasize patriotism when the group meets to vote on the civics and media literacy portion of the guidelines.
Board member Debora Scheffel put the “American Birthright” standards, which were drafted by Civics Alliance, a conservative education coalition, on the meeting’s agenda as an amendment, said Jeremy Meyer, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Education.
“She wants to have a discussion,” he said, declining to provide more information.
Civics Alliance wrote it created the “American Birthright” guidelines “because existing social studies standards too frequently omit crucial figures, such as Christopher Columbus and George Washington, or excise entire concepts, such as liberty or republican virtue.”
“A great many pedagogies actively inhibit student learning, including action civics, so-called ‘anti-racism,’ civic engagement, critical race theory, current events learning, inquiry-based learning, media literacy, project-based learning, social-emotional learning, and virtually any pedagogy that claims to promote ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ or ‘social justice.’” the guidelines read.
Scheffel could not be reached for comment on Tuesday but suggested during a school board meeting this summer that the board consider an overhaul of the standards.
“I thought if we started with something stronger in terms of content, rigor, clarity, and organization, we could perhaps amend that document and make it Colorado’s own,” she told Colorado Public Radio.
The school board is in the middle of reviewing Colorado’s social studies standards, a process that has become embroiled in the national debate over what is taught in K-12 classrooms and which has drawn scrutiny after mentions of people of color and those in the LGBTQ community were removed from earlier revisions of the guidelines.
The experiences of people in the LGBTQ community and people of color were initially included in revisions to the social studies standards.
But a committee removed the references earlier this year after members of the public and at least one Republican school board member – Joyce Rankin — questioned the “age appropriateness” of including those perspectives. Colorado lawmakers have said the removal of the language “boldly thwarts the legislative intent” of a 2019 law.
Local school boards and educators decide what is taught in classrooms, while the standards provide a framework for teachers developing history and civics lessons. The social studies standards do not instruct educators to teach sex education, which is optional in Colorado.
The state school board is expected to vote on a final version of the standards as soon as next month.
“(Scheffel) is asking that we wipe out the media literacy and the civics standards – that’s what we’re going to be talking about – and instead put these Birthright standards in,” said school board member Lisa Escárcega, a Democrat, during a Facebook live event with activist Brother Jeff Fard on Tuesday.
Escárcega, who could not be reached for comment, did not appear supportive of implementing the “American Birthright” standards.
“I’m out,” Escárcega said after reading a portion of the standards “It’s these firestarters, right? They’re just throwing these bombs.”
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