To address perceptions of white, Western bias in curricula public schools surrounding the nation’s capital are revamping social studies courses for all students with critical race theory (CRT), anti-Americanism, and a multitude of leftist propaganda. The new District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Social Studies Standards include teaching kindergartners about gender identity, second graders about same-sex relationships and gender fluidity in civilizations, fifth graders about queer culture and sixth graders about harmful border policies and how racism, privilege and bias affect the distribution of resources.
Ranked among the nation’s lowest performing public school districts, the Washington D.C. system has an enrollment of around 50,000 students that attend 118 campuses, 70 of them elementary schools. DCPS is well known for having among the country’s lowest math, reading and standardized test scores as well as a high dropout rate. A few years ago the DC State Board of Education revealed in a study that the DCPS teacher turnover rate is much higher than the national average and also exceeds the turnover rate of other comparable American cities, including New York, Chicago and Milwaukee. Nearly 20% of DCPS teachers leave each year and 55% quit after five years. Additionally, most schools do not keep a principal for more than five years.
This information is especially relevant because the beleaguered district dedicated precious resources to transform its social studies curriculum with highly questionable material rather than improve in areas it has long failed in. The DC State Board of Education began the overhaul in 2019 to “promote more culturally relevant instruction for students in the nation’s capital,” a local news outlet reported at the time. In the article education officials said the goal is to “address perceptions of white, Western bias in curricula.” According to the DCPS manager for social studies content teachers and students complained that the district’s standards are “not culturally relevant, sustaining or affirming” because the dominant narrative features Western European powers and the decisions of white Americans while the experiences of marginalized people continue to be diminished. “All of our students deserve to see their own cultural, racial and social backgrounds reflected in the curriculum,” said the DCPS official, Lindsay McCrea.
Here is a closer look at some of the changes that will be implemented in the effort to give marginalized people a more equal playing field with Western European powers and white Americans. Besides gender identity, kindergartners will learn to understand their racial, ethnic and religious identities. In first grade kids will identify a leader who has made their community more just and inclusive. Second graders will analyze the daily lives of different individuals in ancient societies including histories of same-sex relationships and gender fluidity in civilizations. In third grade D.C. students will be taught the importance of “affirming spaces,” which are described as safe places for people to express their identities. By fifth grade kids will analyze the rise of Black art, businesses, and queer culture.
On to middle school, the new sixth-grade curriculum includes a section describing the purpose, creation, evolution, and impact of international borders and has students evaluate who benefits and who is harmed by border policies. Students will also evaluate the extent wo which racism, privilege and bias have impacted global resource distribution and how resource distribution has influenced racism and imperialism. By seventh grade, students are introduced to the (evil) “European colonizer” and they will scrutinize how liberty, freedom and democracy were applied to different Americans on the basis of religion, socioeconomic status or class, race, and gender. Eighth graders will learn how protest can lead to change and they will investigate how media and social media can shape the way the public understands an issue.
The high school courses will include “Eurocentrism” and its lasting impact on people of color as well as the effects of colonization on Indigenous people. Classes will also focus on the invention of race as a social construct and how primarily white men fought for their rights while simultaneously oppressing others such as women, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. Finally, high school seniors will go out learning about the shortcomings of democracy in the U.S. and ways that Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) as well as queer youth are impacting change.