A task force in Michigan has released a new proposal recommending dramatic changes to the social studies guidelines for teaching K-12 public school students. Critics charge that the recommendations would foster politicized teaching, anti-Christian bias, and promote a leftist vision of America’s history and ideals that our nation’s founders would find difficult to recognize.
The new politicized guidelines replace the previous state recommendations, which were released only one year earlier and then quickly abandoned after a progressive backlash.
The earlier version of the standards drafted in 2018 focused on the “core values” of America as expressed in our nation’s founding documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Articles of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The recommendations made by the 2018 task force declare that these documents “respectively illustrate how, even in a contest of competing ideas and ideals, people may come together united in hope for a better society,” and add, “In spite of, or perhaps because of, this tension these founding documents endure.”
In this earlier version of the recommendations, America’s system of government is described accurately as a “constitutional republic” a form of government in which citizens elect representatives who then enact laws to govern the polity in accordance with a constitution.
By contrast, in the 2019 iteration of the guidelines, rewritten by a new task force dominated by progressives, the term “core values” is instead replaced with “democratic values,” a term that is open to many interpretations, while the form of American government is alternatively and confusingly characterized as a “democracy,” “constitutional democracy,” or “constitutional republic” in different sections. The focus on America’s founding documents is replaced by an emphasis on “critical literacy” which is defined as “the next cerebral step as students move toward an approach to see and ‘read’ themselves and the world.”
Former Michigan State Senator Patrick Colbeck was among a handful of conservatives who served on the original task force which developed the 2018 standards, which were carefully written, he says, to be “politically-neutral and accurate.” In an opinion piece published on the website of the Detroit News, he describes how the newer 2019 standards deliberately politicize the teaching of social studies by changing the terminology used in the guidelines.
“We should be pursuing ‘core American values’, but that does not appear to fit the political agenda of the new standards developers… Instead of adhering to this standard, the authors [of the 2019 standards] sought to literally promote the professed values of the Democratic party (e.g. equality) under the fitting umbrella ‘democratic values,’” Colbeck states.
“The Declaration states specifically that we are all CREATED equal. We all have equal value in the eyes of our Creator. Our laws are subsequently meant for our equal protection. Yet the so-called ‘progressives’ running today’s Democratic Party and the development of the 2019 standards seek to scrub the references to ‘created’ and skip simply to ‘equality’. This opens the door to their philosophy of equal outcomes (i.e. earnings, property) – except, that is, when it comes to representing differing world views in our social studies standards,” he adds.
Regarding the myriad of ways in which the new standards schizophrenically describe America’s system of governance, Colbeck also believes this is a deliberate attempt to obscure the finer points of American republicanism in the minds of schoolchildren.
“While we do feature democratic processes such as ballot initiatives, our system of government is designed to be a constitutional republic, not a democracy,” he writes. “We elect representatives of the people to make laws on our behalf subject to the constraints of the constitution. The current standards deliberately obfuscate our form of government in the minds of our future generation of leaders.”
Nor does the progressive bias end there. The 2018 guidelines included dedicated sections on both Islam and Christianity, but in the 2019 version, the section on Christianity—but not that on Islam—was removed, amounting to, in Colbeck’s view “overt anti-Christian bias.” The 2019 version also adds “the gay and lesbian community” as a discussion category under civil rights, but excludes the crucial and complementary issue of religious rights of conscience.
Former Senator Colbeck sees in the new guidelines an attempt to “change our system of the government via our education system…not Article V of the U.S. Constitution” which he terms “sedition.” He notes that at a Detroit Public Forum where the 2018 standards were discussed, a 30-year veteran Detroit teacher came up to the microphone and asserted “We are a democracy not a republic. It says so in the Constitution.” When challenged to cite the relevant passage, she could not.
A flyer distributed at that same forum from the World Socialist Website exhorted, “Teachers must link up their fight with educators nationally and internationally!”
“We need to demand politically neutral and accurate standards,” explains Colbeck. “Anything less than this pursuit ensures that our students will be subject to continued progressive indoctrination, not an enlightened education enabling them to participate in reasoned debate.”
Michigan’s Board of Education, in which Democrats hold a 6-2 majority, will soon vote on whether to adopt the new social studies guidelines. The future for “politically neutral and accurate” does not look bright.
To learn more about the Freedom Center’s campaign to halt indoctrination in K-12 schools, please visit www.stopk12indoctrination.org. To read the K-12 Code of Ethics CLICK HERE. To order the Freedom Center’s new pamphlet, “Leftist Indoctrination in Our K-12 Public Schools,” CLICK HERE. To donate to the Stop K-12 Indoctrination campaign, CLICK HERE.