Briefs

NM education leaders expect decision on new social studies standards in early 2022

By: - November 17, 2021 2:33 pm

New social studies standards are expected be approved early next year for the 2023-2024 school year. (Photo by Shelby Kleinhans / Source NM)

Public Education Department officials in New Mexico said they expect to have a decision on the new social studies standards by early next year.

During today’s legislative Education Committee hearing, a PED deputy secretary told lawmakers they are expected to begin the process to adopt the proposals in January.

Gwen Perea Warniment, the deputy secretary of Teaching, Learning and Assessment, said the department intended to have the standards completed by December, but officials want extra time to take into consideration the big public interest during the comment period.

“We’re actually really revising these standards,” Perea Warniment said. “And it’s taking some time given the amount of feedback that we received.”

In September, PED presented the new social studies standards they developed with a team of educators and experts to guide curriculum development for K-12 students in New Mexico.

“Your identity as a kindergartener is that you are a kindergartener in school with a classroom of other 5-year-olds, and that there is a teacher and you will have a relationship with in that school. There are children who are older than you. You may have siblings. You may have family in the community. It's a really basic understanding of who you are in your space.”

– Gwen Perea Warniment, PED deputy secretary of Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This is the first major overhaul of the social studies standards in 20 years.

The effort is more than just an update.

It’s also an attempt to align the state with the 2018 court mandate from the education settlement Yazzie-Martinez. PED said the addition of two new categories to social studies standards — 1) ethnic, cultural and identity studies and 2)inquiry — follow the court’s order to begin developing culturally relevant curriculum for students who are English-language learners, Native American, disabled or those living in poverty. These categories would be added to existing teaching plans in history, geography, civics and economics.

“Our out-of-date standards leave New Mexico students with an incomplete understanding of the complex, multicultural world they live in,” Public Education Secretary-designate Kurt Steinhaus said. “It’s our duty to provide them with a complete education based on known facts. That’s what these proposed standards will do.”

The public comment period for the proposal ended last week with more than 2,700 written comments and more than five hours of comment during a zoom meeting. Many spoke in opposition to the new components.

During Wednesday’s hearing, legislative Rep. T. Ryan Lane (R-San Juan) asked about the curriculum.

“This concept of identity is throughout these standards. In fact, it’s a separate criteria column,” he said. “I’m not sure how you would describe that. I’m just wondering, definitionally, if we can understand what is a group identity.”

The lawmaker wanted to know how educators would teach identity to kindergarten students.

Perea Warniment gave an example that could be used in a classroom that she said would focus on the student’s understanding of their family dynamic and how those connect to their relationship with their community and others.

“Your identity as a kindergartener is that you are a kindergartener in school with a classroom of other 5-year-olds, and that there is a teacher and you will have a relationship with in that school. There are children who are older than you. You may have siblings. You may have family in the community,” she said. “It’s a really basic understanding of who you are in your space.”

Local school districts asked for an extension of the comment period, which had already been lengthened from 30 to 46 days.

The implementation of the new standards was pushed back a year from the original deadline. PED said the standards will be classroom-ready by the 2023-2024 school year. School districts and educators will use 2022 for professional development to ensure their curriculum matches the new standards.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and his ancestry also includes Jemez and Zuni on the maternal side of his family. He grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Most recently he covered Indigenous affairs with New Mexico In Depth. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.

MORE FROM AUTHOR