While several state legislatures, Indiana chief among them, are deliberating whether or not to ban critical race theory (CRT) entirely, Colorado’s Department of Education is considering revisions to the state’s social studies standards that would introduce CRT, gender theory, and “LGBT culture” to first graders.
The changes would affect history classes the most. While Colorado students are already asked to “[i]dentify similarities and differences between themselves and others,” they would now be asked to do so on the basis of “race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, ability, and family makeup.” This newfound emphasis on “multiple perspectives” would also apply to holidays like the “First Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Juneteenth, and Cinco De Mayo.”
Furthermore, teachers would now be encouraged to ask questions like “How are African American, Latino, Asian American, Indigenous peoples and religious minority cultures different from and similar to one another?”
First grade civics education would also be greatly affected by the changes. The proposed standards include a new emphasis on Indigenous People’s Day (and not Columbus Day) as a “major civic holiday.” In addition, the requirement for students to be able to recognize and identify American civic leaders would be expanded to the leaders of different affinity groups, “including, but not limited to, African American, Latino, Asian American, Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQ, and religious minorities.”
Not even geography would be spared. Rather than the present emphasis on individuality and family, Colorado would shift to an emphasis on disparate communities, and how those communities are impacted by factors like the environment and climate change.
While some parent and community groups have come out in support of the changes, the proposed revisions are extremely controversial. Critics have pointed out that the emphasis on affinity groups is overly broad, divisive, and could possibly be used to exclude white children.
“Already at 6 years old, students are apparently supposed to divide others into narrow, predetermined identity groups. If they’re white or some other unchosen group, they must be excluded and discounted,” argued Jimmy Sengenberger, a Colorado-based radio host who once ran a nonprofit devoted to civics education.
“Never mind that a 6-year-old child can’t — and shouldn’t — even begin to understand why certain racial groups deserve more attention than others. First graders are now supposed to be taught how to make group assumptions as though Blacks, Hispanics and Asians are some monoliths you can simply compare others to. Seriously?”
The plan has not yet been approved for use, and the state is currently seeking public feedback with a deadline of Feb. 1. More information, as well as the feedback portal, can be found here.