More than 650 pages of public comments submitted so far on the state’s proposed changes to K-12 social studies standards contain an array of reactions — from praise to concerns about how teachers will develop new lesson plans in such a short time and outrage over what some educators and Republican politicians decry as “divisive” and “leftist ideology.”

One thing is clear: New Mexico’s first social studies overhaul in more than a decade is a big deal.

The proposed standards, which would be introduced to students in the next school year, add events in modern history, regional Native American history and civics, and the history of the LGBTQ movement. They ask students to think critically about issues like equity and social justice.

Former Cochiti Pueblo Gov. Regis Pecos, who co-chairs the Tribal Education Alliance, sees the updated standards as a “significant first step” in providing public school students with culturally competent curricula, as required under a state judge’s 2018 ruling in the Yazzie/Martinez education lawsuit.

“We consider this to be a watershed moment in light of a landmark decision,” Pecos said.

Others, however, cite the need for more time for school districts to review and consider the sweeping changes, plus time to implement them, as well as fears of dwindling local control over how teachers address sensitive topics in classrooms. One comment, attributed to Portales High School social studies teacher Wade Fraze, said the proposed standards would abuse parental rights by indoctrinating children.

The New Mexico Public Education Department will host a virtual public hearing Friday to gather input on the draft standards. That is also the deadline to submit written comments.

Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez said at a school board meeting Thursday the local district will provide comments at the hearing.

The standards have guiding principles that expand the historical lens and include the perspectives of “all Americans,” he added.

District social studies coordinator Erica Wheeler, who helped write the draft proposal, told the board, “We’re excited about them and really do think they’ll provide the academic understanding as well as the academic skills required for the 21st century.”

Other districts are asking the state to slow down.

At least 10 school boards from Aztec to Artesia have passed identical resolutions calling for an extension of the public comment period to July 2022, when teachers would have to start building the new material into their lessons.

The Pojoaque Valley school board passed the resolution in late October. It cites concerns over the length of the proposed standards, a lack of stakeholder input before drafting them, learning losses from the coronavirus pandemic and the overwhelming workload for educators who are trying to help students catch up.

“There’s a very short time between the end of the comment period and the implementation period,” said Sondra Adams, superintendent of Pojoaque Valley Public Schools.

State Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, who is vying for the GOP nomination in the governor’s race, is one of many Republican lawmakers who oppose the draft standards and repeatedly have called for the Public Education Department to extend the time allotted for public comment at this week’s hearing.

Instead, the department moved the hearing from in-person to online. Spokeswoman Judy Robinson said the change was due to the wide public interest in the issue and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We hope that PED will listen to school districts, the parents, to the people in the minority who are saying this is not the right time and it’s not ready for implementation,” Dow said.

Heather Bassett, a policy analyst for Albuquerque Public Schools, called the proposed standards “a big shift.”

She has compiled feedback from teachers to submit to the Public Education Department. Teachers seem to be on board with the way the new standards address complicated aspects of history and identity, she said, noting many teachers may already address such topics in their classrooms.

“I think maybe the general public hasn’t given teachers enough credit for being able to handle controversial or divisive issues in the classroom. They do it every day,” Bassett said.

Still, she said some teachers fear it could be difficult to implement the standards, and they wonder if they will have enough support for the process. She said the district may recommend a slower implementation process.

They also have questions, she said: “What’s the accountability? Is there an end-of-course exam?”

Some of the sharpest criticisms of the standards have come from New Mexico Republicans who, like their conservative counterparts in other states, liken some of the principles students would learn to a concept in higher education called “critical race theory,” which explores how race plays out in the legal system.

According to the nonprofit Heritage Foundation, a public policy think tank, 21 states have introduced bills that would ban the teaching of critical race theory in public K-12 schools or colleges. Seven of those bills are now laws.

Virginia’s Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, a newcomer who defeated Democratic incumbent Terry McAuliffe last week, had vowed to ban critical race theory from public schools. Many people credited the stance for his election victory.

Depending on the outcome of Friday’s hearing, Dow said, New Mexico lawmakers may consider introducing legislation on how race is addressed in schools.

“I’m not against accurate history being taught,” Dow said; however, she added, “If we as a state are opposed to critical race theory being taught in K-12 schools, make it plain and say it.”

She declined to define critical race theory. “I’m not going to get into an entire college degree coursework,” she said.

But she said the concept shows up in parts of the standards that ask children to “process, identify and write in a narrative way about what would make America a just place to live.”

One section of the high school standards says students can demonstrate competency in “critical consciousness and perspectives” by “creating an action plan for a more just and equitable America for diverse groups of people including Native Americans and African Americans.”

Pecos — who praised parts of the new social studies standards, including a section that calls for students to know how different belief systems affect land use — said Friday’s hearing is an opportunity to assess opposition to standards aimed at viewing history from a variety of cultural and ethnic perspectives.

“How people respond to this public hearing will be the first kind of barometer of where New Mexico stands, comparatively speaking, with the nation,” he said.

After the hearing, the more than 60 local teachers who helped write the draft proposal will revise it based on public feedback. The state will then develop training resources and prepare to implement the standards in the 2022-23 school year.

Monte del Sol Charter School founding member and social studies teacher Wendy Leighton, who was on the writing team for the standards, said it’s important for people to understand the difference between standards, curricula and lesson plans.

Standards are state-issued guidelines showing what each student needs to know, but how students get there — through curriculum — is overseen by school boards and developed by local educators. Finally, she said, specific lesson plans based on curriculum are designed by a teacher.

“People can teach the standards in a multitude of ways,” she said.

Leighton described her time on the writing team as an “honor.”

“We have developed a very thorough, up-to-date, historically accurate social studies standard which will provide a well-rounded education, where all stories and voices will be heard,” she said. “This includes marginalized groups in history.”

(55) comments

Richard Reinders

All you have to do is read all these comments to understand what CRT will do to your community it is divisive racist concept.

Jim Klukkert

Or in the more logical and non partisan alternative, Richard Reinders, read the friggin' standards.

Of course some partisans would much rather rely and inflammatory rhetoric from the uninformed.

Which source do you prefer, Reinders?

Joe Brownrigg

Thank you, Jim. Nothing does better for understanding than to read the original sources!!!

Joe Brownrigg

See Jim's contribution below. Read the original sources!!!

Mike Johnson

And the race card is being played in all manner of things to explain them. Mayor Pete says roads and bridges reflect racism, and Kamala says that planting trees in cities shows racial injustice by where they are placed. Once agin, I do not believe race is a driving force in any American system of anything.

Joe Brownrigg

Then you are simply not listening to the full context, Mike.

Kirk Holmes

My family (both sides) are pretty much new comers to America (only dating back to the mid 1600’s). Researched and factual - no slave owners in my ancestry. One of my 3rd great grandfathers was an abolitionist (a member of the Whig Party). Living in Ohio, he housed, fed, and provided safe passage of slaves into Canada that came up from the south. As a junior high school student in the early 70’s we were taught the horrors of slavery in “American History” class. What happened? Did schools stop teaching American History somewhere along the line? Thank God I don’t have school age children. I can’t believe educational institutions in NM and the country feel they need to teach this divisive c_rp ……. termed CRT.

Richard Reinders

They don't refer to history or they would find that 110,100 Union Soldiers both white and black fought and died to free the slaves, the other fact is white folks have been immigrating to this country for hundreds of years that had no connection to the oppression of minorities, I am a first generation in this country from my family, so to generalize all whites are the oppressors is false from the start.

Joe Brownrigg

Have you ever heard of "white privilege"? What about "systemic racism"? Or "polite racism"?

BTW, not all racism is person-to-person.

If your family had tried to immigrate here from an African or South American country, it probably would not have been very easy...due to our racist immigration policy.

Comment deleted.
Jim Klukkert

Jake, these sorts of ignorant, hate driven comments will be removed from these pages as abuse.

Do you get some pleasure from spreading division? Please let us know.

Mike Johnson


Jim Klukkert

Mike, with all respect, please rein in your admitted hatred. Your hate driven comments further rend the fabric of our community.

Jake Jason

My paternal grandparents immigrated in the 1880s. He was a drunk who drove a beer route during prohibition. My maternal grandparents immigrated in the 1920s. He was a master carpenter for 35 years and raised 5 kids, who together produced 22 grandchildren, including me. Sorry, "progressives," all you're doing is further establishing the Democratic Party's anti-white, anti-America agenda. Keep it up. Word's getting around.

Joe Brownrigg

It surely is, Jake!

Chris Mechels

Such silliness. We'd do better teaching "The Peoples History of the United States", by Zinn. "What's in my Pants" seems a little lite in comparison.

Donna Gomien

Not about CRT (yes, yes, yes, only taught at Law Schools) but here is a series that might be of interest to those engaged in the topic of critical thinking (remember that concept?), social justice, etc.:

Jerry Appel

Language Arts teachers have been broadening reading material for 40 years. I have included First People's authors, and all people of color in my reading materials along with a full representation of traditional British and American authors. The result was lively and critical conversations along with thoughtful written responses. I was quite pleased with the broad range of perspectives on various social, economic, and political issues illustrated in literature. Adding the voices of the various groups in this country whose history, land, and lives were destroyed as a co-equal part of the Social Studies curriculum can only help. For decades my students have read and analyzed New Perce Chief Joseph's speech, "I will fight no more, forever." In isolation, my students are not learning why the US Army drove this group to near extinction. Learning about the national campaign to re-locate First Peoples that began in earnest during the President Andrew Jackson administration and continued into the XXth Century would provide a critical look at this country and how it has evolved. Failure to study such history leads to a white-washing of the past meaning that things were then as they are now. As a retired teacher, we have lived through de-segregation and the segregationist presidential candidates like Strom Thurmond and George Wallace. Our students also need to know about the importation of Asians to build the railroad and the restrictions placed upon them which was an integral part of the Kung-Fu television pilot. Including such history which had been excluded or erased from the curriculum can only help our children move into the future. Often times our competitors and adversaries use our own history to counter our human rights arguments which so many US citizens are ignorant of. Knowing the full picture can help us compete and become more successful, and that is what we want for all of our children.

Joe Brownrigg

Jerry, thank you for your informative and experience-based comments. I wish I'd had you as my high school or civics teacher when I was in high school (many decades ago!). The level of my high school history class is in one final exam question: "Who made George Washington's wooden false teeth?" My answer? "Who cares?" That brought my grade down from an A to a C.

I wish I'd learned IMPORTANT things in high school history, not Trivial Pursuit questions/answers.

kathleen king

Mr. Brownrigg, may I respectfully (given your mutliple comments on this matter) suggest that the fact that (a) the level of your high school history class was encompassed within the question you cite, and (b) your express statement that you wish it had been more focused on "IMPORTANT things" establishes the very need for the sort of teaching you now condemn as "CRT"? Further, what kept you from yourself learning more? Lack of curiosity -- that too is an educational problem, and is best met by challenge to the student and a list of other sources so that the student learns and has to select for him or herself the points which will be incorporated within the personal history. However, it appears to me that you, an adolescent male, summed up what has now become habit in that smart-alec answer "Who cares?" Frankly, I'd have failed you....although it is sadly all too "average" a response.

Joe Brownrigg

Kathleen King, I am puzzled by many of your comments. The most egregious is your assuming and addressing me as an adolescent! Oh how I wish!! If you'll re-read the above posting, I clearly state that I was in high school many decades ago!! :-)

I also think you have me mixed up with someone else. I PROMOTE genuine "critical race theory"! I do not hate it.

So far as your many other comments are concerned, "race" is a concept, not a physical reality. (So we are in agreement here.) But it is a very important one to all in this world. "Critical Race Theory" studies the historical and systemic errors we have made and continue to make, especially in legal and court systems.

kathleen king

Thank you for an informed, rational opinion! So many -- or perhaps in this instance one man commenting several times -- seem to have fixated, predictably, on what is being called CRT and is basically simply a "code" for a certain political view expressed in myriad ways. There is, in fact, only one "race": the human species. It's pretty deplorable and terribly misnamed as "sapiens" when about the last motivator for our highly predatory and aggressive species is the brain and reason. We need to "think" more and emote a whole lot less! However, with respect to the teaching of history whether that subject begins with "Evolution 101" including speculation on what happened to the Denisovans and Neanderthals and why or at some other byway of modern human development, we MUST include and discuss all the nasty bits as well as the great inventions and individuals. For, like it or not, every single solitary "great" human (usually only reported as males) had and has "warts" on his portrait. May one posit that without bad there is no good? Without seeing evil there cannot be "progress" morally? Perhaps instead of focusing on whether there is such as thing as "racism" the light should be shone upon what defines such concepts as "justice" and why? As a rather obscure, mediocre bureaucrat is quoted as having said "What is truth?" Let's ask our children, from the beginning THAT question and ask them also how THEY see these concepts -- then narrate the facts as they are known now and as they were formerly portrayed -- and as they may in the future be seen?

Sabine Strohem

I hope whatever is taught we teach HONESTY and DECENCY and highlight the golden rule.

kathleen king

How about we ask those kids themselves to discuss and define what is "honest" and "decent" and tell them that what you call the "golden rule" pervades a great many civilizations.

Joan Piwowar

I agree with Mr. Reinders comment. CRT does not seem to humanize all of us. We have been working to improve relations with each other for decades. What I have seen these past few years at least, from comments made on various social network sites, is that it has led to demonizing white people. It is wrong to hate anyone because of their race, regardless of what your race is- you can still be racist. But we have been trying. This imo, from what I have been seeing and hearing is just a method to divide us further in order to change this country, not into a better United States, but into something different altogether. Something that will not be good for any of us, except maybe the ruling elites.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] Well said, this is all just divisive and polarizing, which certain political forces enjoy and promote, politicians love this.

Joe Brownrigg

Mike, you continue to witness to your own "divisive and polarizing" whims.

Joe Brownrigg

Joan, I doubt you know what critical race theory is. It is NONE of what you have written.

Emily Hartigan

I taught critical race theory for almost 30 years -- because I taught Jurisprudence in a law school.

CRT is a sophisticated, often narrative-based depiction of the life of Blacks in the US. An absolutely necessary counter-weight to the predominant Anglo story, CRT humanizes everyone. Age-appropriate historical renderings of the embedded racism (including colorism within communities of color) can only help children understand that the "default category" of human was originally property-owning white males, and is still evolving, even now. Good for us, for changing as we uncover our unintended racism; bad for us if we let "feeling bad" about unearned privilege, stop us.

Joe Brownrigg

Emily, what a great breath of fresh air!!!! Thank you a hundred-fold.

It is the unknowingly racist thoughts, laws and acts that are the most destructive.

Richard Reinders

Emily, I read your post further down , where you say you have I’ll gotten gain in inheriting a family home bought with VA loan. You can easily relieve your self of this guilt by selling it and giving the proceeds to NAACP or some other oppressed group. Here is a YouTube that might provide some clarity to your issue with your privilege

Joe Brownrigg

Richard, do you EVER ADD something positive to a conversation???

Jim Klukkert

As Jake Jason has again posted misinformation in a comment, i.e. “Jim defines any comment that doesn't support his radical agenda as something to be censored. LOL,” I will hope to educate him by posting below the SFNM guidelines.

The problems prevalent in Jason’s posts is that they are heavy on personal attacks and insults, and totally fact free. Amazingly consistent, creatively challenged and designed to sow division in our community. Sad really.

“Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.”

Jim Klukkert

This post by Richard Reinders is nothing but a mean spirited distortion of Emily Hartigan's post. Reinders has issues around reading comprehension, civility and American History.

If only Reinders would refrain from posting until he gets that sorted.

Oh well ...

Richard Reinders

Jim, it wasn't mean spirited, it was meant to giver her an option to clear her conscience, the youtube is a debate at a University that addresses her very comment and may help to give her clarity. I apologize and should have started the comment with "no disrespect".

Joe Brownrigg


Jim Klukkert

Reinders– but it is obviously presumptuous and insulting to for you to claim that Emily Hartigan's conscience is in anyway burdened. Any assessment of that sort is driven by an extreme and wrong headed perspective.

To start the comment with "no disrespect" would be poor form, as the rest of the comment is one of disrespect for Hartigan.

Mike Johnson


Comment deleted.
Mike Johnson


Richard Reinders

Gov Pecos, I mean you no disrespect, IMO you may want to rethink your approval once they turn this weapon on the Indigenous and their past history with other tribes. No one is immune to the racial twist put on the teachings of the past history and everyone has skeletons that are best left in the past. I can control the present and have some influence on the future but I know I have no control or involvement on that past. All around the country people have changed there minds on CRT after they see the effects on the community and their children, I am interested in talking to my neighbor over the fence rather than have a bigger wedge driven between us.

Marcia Meier

With all due respect, critical race theory is not taught in any K through 12 school anywhere in this country. And it never has been. What you’re seeing across the country right now is a response to overwrought fears around the teaching of critical race theory, which is taught in law schools and other higher education institutions. It has to do with the fact that laws established from the founding of this country were often meant to oppress black, brown and African-Americans, keeping them from owning property and gaining educations that would allow them to build wealth. There are some excellent articles on critical race theory.

Mike Johnson

You really should read what some educators say about this. This author distinguishes theoretical CRT from practical CRT. No, theoretical CRT is not taught in K-12, but elements of practical CRT is. To quote: "No, CRT as subject matter isn’t in schools; third-graders aren’t reading legal theory from the 80s written by people in their 80s. However, their teachers have likely read the literature, and when trying to put this theory into practice, things go horribly wrong. Just think of how the Marxist theory has played out when put into practice. (Interestingly enough, CRT is derived from Marxism, but that’s fodder for another article.). So, to distinguish from theoretical CRT, let’s call this phenomenon “applied CRT.” Applied CRT presents the world as a hopeless heck-scape of racism and forces everything into a narrative in which everyone, including students, are assigned permanent roles of either oppressor or oppressed."

Joe Brownrigg

Really, Mike??

If you are going to write about critical race theory (which is not being taught in our publice schools), please tell us what specific sources are the focus of your unfocused hatred?

Emily Hartigan

Mike, such junk.

It's not about anything that is immutable, but about learning.

TODAY we white folks continue in our subconscious racism, and who wouldn't want to learn about how they inadvertently harm others?

What are you afraid of?

Losing unearned privilege?

Mike Johnson

Mr. Brownrigg, if you are indeed interested in my views, which I doubt, you can read this, it fairly encapsulates my thoughts on this subject:

Mike Johnson

Alright Mr. Brownrigg, here is what I think about this issue.I reject the presentation of our country, its history, its founding, its institutions and its present laws and practices as pervasively, uniformly, profoundly and irredeemably racist. Nor do I accept the corollary that all white Americans automatically enjoy illegitimate "white privilege"—and that they are to blame for every problem that people of color, especially blacks, experience today. In addition, I reject one of the central elements of the "anti-racism" creed, which conveniently allows CRT to be presented as unvarnished, unquestionable truth, is that any critique, challenge or argument against it, however grounded in evidence, history or logic, is by definition a racist expression of an oppressive system of "whiteness." I reject what CRT proponents believe, that system must be wholly discredited, dismantled and expunged, both to achieve "racial justice" and to spare non-whites from trauma, exclusion and an "unsafe" environment. I think the problems with inequality in America is based almost entirely on socio-economic class. Having grown up in a dirt poor, single divorced Mom home and long time poor family, I recognize the issues many complain about today, it happens to most everyone in our socio-economic class, regardless of race.

Emily Hartigan

Oh, Michael. Those Black folks (and their allies) are causing "polarizing politics" by pointing out the continuing effects of racism?

No, white people are not "guilty" of privilege, but if they refuse to see it, they could become so. My father, coming back from WWII, got one of those "no Blacks" housing loans -- and with our immoral inheritance laws, I inherited that racist financial privilege. That is a major component of how I could buy a house here in Santa Fe.

If I ignore that injustice, I am complicit.

Jake Jason

"My father, coming back from WWII, got one of those "no Blacks" housing loans -- and with our immoral inheritance laws, I inherited that racist financial privilege. That is a major component of how I could buy a house here in Santa Fe. If I ignore that injustice, I am complicit." Okey doke, but when are you going to stop being "complicit" and transfer the deed? Oh, and you are living on stolen land. When are you going to leave, and where will you go? Asking for a friend. LOL

Joe Brownrigg

Marcia, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Joe Brownrigg

Mike, I will read your comments, but I will not read someone else's words that you attribute to yourself. I ask for YOUR specific objections.

Joe Brownrigg

Please get some good education about critical race theory. What you wrote is not it!!

Joe Brownrigg

Mike, thank you for stating some of your complaints about what you think is "critical race theory."

You do not make reference to any sources for your claims. Most of what you have written is NOT "critical race theory." Aside from your Newsweek op-ed piece, there is no source to critique. The closest you come is to divisively claim that "critical race theory" wants to revisit all the years of our history for corrections and to examine the systems of racism in our country. (I've re-phrased your words in the most positive possible manner.)

Once again, "critical race theory" is NOT being taught in K-12. As several others have already pointed out, it is only taught in law schools and in a few graduate level courses. The most visible case recently was the governor's campaign in Virginia, where it was used as a misinformed plank in the Republican candidate's platform. He won, but he never addressed the charge of misinformation in his campaign. It was obvious that he did not respond to these charges because he was focused on simply winning the campaign, not arguing a point of truth.

Because you reject racism out of hand, there is no sense to argue with you about this.

BYW, I also was raised in a single parent, poor family, so I don't think that line of thought supports any of your divisive denials. I Do agree that we have a lot of discrimination based on class, but to deny the pivitol role of racism is simply mistaken.

Mike Johnson

Then we will have to agree to disagree, that's fine, but I do not think racism is a driving force for anything in American society, law, etc. It is however, a driving force in divisive, polarizing politics on both sides of the aisle.

Joe Brownrigg

Mike, it is not a matter of "agree to disagree." It is that you do not have ANY "Critical Race Theory" sources to quote. You only have ideological, empty claims. Show us some actual "Critical Race Theory" sources which is objectionable!!

Mike Johnson

Mr. Brownrigg, I thought I was very clear about what I reject in CRT. Maybe this will be something you can understand, from:

"Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

The basic tenets of critical race theory, or CRT, emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others." So I know what it is, and I totally and completely reject this basic tenet, "...that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies." That is steaming bovine excrement, is that clear enough for you? And BTW, as a Ph.D. scientist I know about "theories", and this one is far from being truth, proven, or even examined fully, IMO.

Jim Klukkert

Historical "skeletons" are best left in the past, said Richard Reinders,the old white guy.

Big surprise there! Let's just eliminate any mention of history ¿Que no, Richard?

I choosing the wisdom of Winston Churchill, who wrote, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.