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Parents and others share concerns about proposed social studies standards

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 10:29 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Social studies standards are set to change in Mississippi, but the updates didn’t set well with the public.

There was enough outcry that it pushed the State Department of Education to hold a public hearing.

”Stand up and have a back bone,” said Virginia Henry.

“Just because Washington is in chaos doesn’t mean Mississippi has to be in chaos,” noted Marsha Gates.

Emotions ran high as parents, educators and advocates took full advantage of the three minutes given to each speaker to discuss the proposed social studies standards. They all had different reasons they’re concerned. But they all want to know why the changes are happening. It seems some feedback is already getting a response.

“As you know, on page 233, for example, some references that revolve around the Ku Klux Klan as well as Jim Crow laws have been omitted. The committee has informed us this morning that they will be replacing those inside of the curriculum,” said Mississippi Association of Educators President Erica Jones.

MDE says the context examples they had planned to strike and move to a separate document will now remain within the standards. For example, the mentions of MLK, Jr, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers and James Meredith won’t become a vague reference to civil rights leaders.

“I come this morning to ask that history be taught,” said Sen. Sollie Norwood from the podium.

Others in the crowd turned to mentions of critical race theory, believing the new standards would put teaching into that lens.

“What are you going to let our teachers teach something that would divide us instead of unite us?” asked concern mother/grandmother Virginia Henry.

“This lesson plan is complete with discriminatory practices in indoctrinating children in segregation or forcing them to judge others not by the content of their character but by immutable characteristics,” said parent Christopher Henry.

There is still an opportunity for people to submit comments for consideration. But changes are set to take effect for next school year.

You can mail that to Jen Cornett at 359 N. West Street, Post Office Box 771, Jackson, MS 39205-0771, or email jcornett@mdek12.org. The deadline to submit is 5 p.m. on Feb. 4. Public comments will be presented to the board for discussion at the March 17 board meeting.

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