CMYK 111221 jw ped protest1.jpg

Mary Jo Gallegos, 67, voices her support Friday during a speech by Republican candidate for governor Ethel Maharg, right, during a protest outside the Public Education Department headquarters in Santa Fe. Organized by the Republican party, a small crowd of outraged citizens and lawmakers from across the state gathered to voice opposition to PED’s proposed changes to social studies standards.

Penelope Loyd Sment will be a junior at Early College Academy in Albuquerque by the time the state is set to implement revised social studies standards for the first time in more than a decade.

At 14, she’s all for what the Public Education Department has proposed.

“I don’t appreciate anyone telling me I can only hear one side of history,” she said Friday evening during a hearing regarding the state’s recently proposed social studies standards overhaul. “We don’t want history to be censored and whitewashed. We know that racism, homophobia, other discrimination and unjust practices within our system exist.”

Loyd Sment was one of more than 100 people who requested to speak at the 5½-hour online hearing. It had been set to be shorter and in person, but the Public Education Department moved it online, citing COVID-19 concerns.

If adopted as is through the Public Education Department’s rule-making process, social studies curricula will be developed and taught in K-12 public schools under 26 new “anchor standards” that highlight key concepts that students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of, as well as performance standards that include geography, civics, and “ethnic, cultural and identity studies.”

The proposed standards would add more modern events, including the pandemic. Other additions would include LGBTQ history and an expansion of Indigenous history and civics. Proponents with the state see the standards proposal as key to fulfilling the terms of the 2018 Yazzie/Martinez ruling, which called for “culturally and linguistically appropriate” educational materials for New Mexico students.

“I think it is something that we absolutely need to do,” said Public Education Secretary-designate Kurt Steinhaus in a recent news conference.

During the public hearing, Francis Vigil of Zia Pueblo, who works for the National Indian Education Association, said the standards are written in a way that could be taught in Native languages.

“It’s highly valuable, not only for content-based acquisition but for utilization of language and learning through family, community and tribal epistemologies,” he said. “And [it] addresses some of those important points of the Yazzie/Martinez suit.”

Others said they might be on board with the contents but have raised concerns over the timeline and implementation of such a drastic overhaul. More than a dozen district school boards and superintendents submitted public comment calling for more time on the proposal, with some opposing the standards.

The proposed standards are notably lengthier than the current standards and were developed over the summer by a team of more than 60 educators from around the state, including several from Santa Fe. They would be fully implemented by the 2023-24 school year, according to the Public Education Department.

“The opposition I’d like to bring up is the expanding of some of the classes,” said Albuquerque Public Schools social studies teacher Colin Norwalk. “Many of these standards are dramatically different from the ones we’ve been using before.”

Norwalk was concerned with the expansion of the historical timeline that must be taught to 11th graders under the standards. Currently, 11th grade history starts after the Civil War. Under the new standards, teachers would need to begin before Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage to the Americas.

“We don’t have the resources necessary to teach that,” he said.

A few commenters who fear the new standards would be divisive or promote shame among white students quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech: “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

But those in favor of the standards said they are an opportunity to teach children from different backgrounds more about themselves and others.

Rio Rancho parent Barbara Jordan offered a rebuttal from Martin Luther King Jr.’s archive: “Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”

Jordan recounted the discrimination her son faced in elementary school when students said they refused to play with him because he was Black.

“This is way overdue,” she said. “Our BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of color] children, our LGBTQ students, are part of our communities. They are not political statements. They are humans; they deserve to be in a state education environment where they are seen and where they can recognize themselves.”

Stephen Theiss, a parent in Santa Fe, praised the proposed standards for their expanded focus on Native American history and economics. He said he was troubled by the focus on what he saw as negative effects of conservatism in the U.S.

“I believe the curriculum does seem to be a little overpoliticized,” he said. “I don’t necessarily trust a teacher to be disciplined enough to keep their own political views out of this discussion.”

The team that drafted the standards will revise them according to public input through December, before the department devises professional development and an instructional scope to match the adopted standards. The hearing also was set to collect public comment on two additional rule changes. One would clarify the authority the Public Education Department has to suspend local school boards and superintendents that fail to abide by the department’s rules. The other would establish guidelines for mandatory ethical misconduct training courses for school personnel.

(20) comments

Lisa Smith

More disturbing is that parents would drag their school-aged kids to a Republican rally at ver CRT. Indoctrination starts young.

Gilbert Mireles

How about a universally accurate history accepted for all! I know some of you have come here from other places and got involved with our education not just history, but then you find out the history taught in all other states are ALL different! racially, politically, distanced from ANY accuracy! Why can't the PED's across the nation work together? Oh, because NOW you want all OUR lands here! Thanks for coming

Kirk Holmes

Whatever. I hope New Mexico’s New Indoctrination Educational Platform includes the words of the late Rodney King. Yes, “that” Rodney King who said …… “Can’t we all get along?”. Whatever you may have thought of Mr. King, …… wise words. “Make New Mexico Moderate Again” should be our state’s slogan. Let’s return to the state where I moved here to going on 40 yrs ago. Please.

Jim Klukkert

Kirk Holmes- Are you suggesting that NM school standards mandate a discussion of the besting Rodney King, and the Not Guilty verdicts handed down for the half-dozen police videotaped perpetrating their brutal crime?

Hmmm, sounds perilously close to a Black Lives Matter agenda. Hard to keep up with current events, whilst turning the clock back two decades.

Mike Johnson

My thoughts exactly Mr. Holmes.....[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Lupe Molina

Any article about "crt" should include a disclaimer recognizing that the history that baby boomers learned, in many cases, was categorically wrong, and the crt is just trying to correct the record.

Jim Klukkert

Oh look, it's the Know Nothing Nativist parade, led by the very face of Compassion and Compromise, Mary Jo Gallegos!

If you do not know the role of ‘Know Nothings’ and ‘Nativists’ in our history, or the importance of Black Wall Street, Oklahoma; Thule Lake, California; Sand Creek, Colorado; Porvenir, Texas; the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory of New York City; Ludlow, Colorado; or the names of Emmet Till, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, your education is INCOMPLETE.

joan e. price

I spoke and listened through the blizzard of 3 minute inputs. Numerous tribal educators supported the new inclusion and orientation to ethnic studies. They know their long history of exposure to small pox and other foreign diseases and their tragic loss of people --a history that will be in the history curriculum now. All our children should learn from this lesson of history. The New Mexico Acequia association also spoke on the collective requirements in maintaining the still living water management skills that trace far back into New Mexican history.. We have a rich and old set of cultural history and landscape and it was well represented.

The news coverage does help bring insight to the blizzard of perspectives coming from opposite directions especially when it comes to collective shared lessons learned from other cultural groups.

Mike Johnson

The acequia experience and history is quite important, and the recent history of the government and politicians stealing our water rights through unconstitutional adjudications from them for corrupt purposes. That history should not be forgotten, as it will affect many for a long time.

Mike Johnson

I am afraid all these racism culture wars have distracted and damaged the really important changes that need to be made, the teaching of finance and economics to allow students to understand how to live their lives efficiently and wisely when it comes to money.

Marci Mel

Two bills that would have required high school students in this state to take a financial literacy course were shot down. We can teach them to blame others for every failure but we won't teach them how to take care of themselves. Beautiful.


Exactly, We don't need the schools to indoctrinate our kids to their radical agenda. Teach the children well!

Mike Johnson

I stand corrected, people may have been paying attention to the really important issue...."In over 1,000 pages of public comment received by the education department in the past 45 days, there’s an issue that has received more mention than race: personal finance."

Lupe Molina

Kids can walk and chew gum. They can learn personal finance AND this country's real history.

Khal Spencer

Comment of the day. Thanks. And, of course critical thinking and STEM.

Emily Hartigan

Make students think??? Become uncomfortable because there is and has been injustice?

Hey, these snowflakes should have had Sr. Gertrude Louise, and be taught that if you were hit by a bus on the way to Confession, eternal damnation if you'd skipped Mass on Sunday. (Thank heavens for the nuns who taught that God loves us all unconditionally -- even those angry folks who want to ban something that isn't even taught.)

Russell Scanlon

And they call us “Snowflakes”!

Angel Ortiz

Snowflakes? Injustice has been a part of our history and should be discussed and not white washed away. Tragic.

John Wilson

I agree that there should be no CRTs in schools today. Cathode Ray Tubes are energy inefficient and flat screens have supplanted them in nearly every realm. We should be up to date with out tech. [beam]

Khal Spencer

My thoughts exactly!

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