Louisiana Department of Education Approves New Social Studies Curriculum for K-8 Schools

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A Louisiana Department of Education steering committee approved on Saturday a new version of the standards for Louisiana students learning social sciences, update content and timeline of what history is taught in public schools.

Under the proposed new standards, students in Kindergarten to Grade 2 will learn Louisiana and world history at an introductory level.

In Grade 1, students will “describe democratic principles, including, but not limited to, equality, liberty, liberty and respect for individual rights”.

Students in grades three to five will be taught extensively about world history, as well as “the ingenuous history of Louisiana and the first French explorations and colonizations”.

“The goal was to develop knowledge chronologically and systematically, from prehistoric times to AD 1600,” said Nathan Corley, director of special projects at the Louisiana Department of Education.

Students in grades six to eight will learn the history of the United States and Louisiana in tandem.

In seventh grade, students will be expected to explain the causes and effects of 19th century events such as civil war and reconstruction.

In eighth grade, students will also be expected to analyze the civil rights movement in the context of Jim Crow and the entry of the United States into World War II and events in Europe.

The new standards have generated great interest from the Louisiana Legislature. Lawmakers during this year’s legislative session proposed several bills requiring changes to the social studies curriculum in public schools as conservative concerns about critical race theory swept across the country.

Rep. Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette, introduced a bill that would have banned classes on systemic racism or sexism currently in the state or country.

Garofalo ended up being dismissed as chairman of the House Education Committee after saying schools should teach “the good, the bad and the ugly” of slavery.

None of the bills that would have made it harder for teachers on slavery or sexism – including Garofalo’s – have reached the governor’s office.

But the merits of Critical Race Theory – a framework used to demonstrate how racism has shaped and continues to shape modern society – have been debated nationally. Former President Donald Trump attacked the idea during his last year in office. His administration issued a memo in September 2020 banning federal agencies from taking anti-bias training that the administration called “divisive anti-American propaganda training sessions.”

President Joe Biden erased Trump’s order on January 20, the day he was inaugurated: “I am rescinding the previous administration’s damaging ban on diversity and sensitivity training,” he said. he declares. “Unity and healing must begin with understanding and truth, not ignorance and lies.”

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Representative Barbara Freiberg, R-Baton Rouge, approved the proposed social studies standards.

“There have been compromises on both sides as to where now people feel comfortable,” said Freiberg, who is white.

But Rep. Tammy Phelps, D-Shreveport, said she was not happy with the social studies proposal. She believes the new standards do not fully address African American history or the contributions of people of color to Louisiana and the United States.

“It’s still very vague when I think we should be specific when we talk about history,” said Phelps, who is black.

The new standards will be submitted to the House Education Committee on October 11 for discussion. Freiberg and Phelps are both members of the education committee.

“It will be interesting when (the new standards) are presented to the (house) education committee to see if there are people who are still having problems,” Freiberg said.

Parents and teachers can submit public comments online to the Council for Primary and Secondary Education on the new standards. In December, the board will then consider the revised standards, along with public comments.

If the revised standards are approved, they will be implemented by the 2023-24 school year in Louisiana public schools.


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