Louisiana schools superintendent ‘has some concerns’ about new social studies standards

Approval process for the new standards have been pushed back a month

By: - October 12, 2021 8:15 pm

Louisiana State Superintendent Cade Brumley talks to the members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. BESE meets monthly (JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

Louisiana State Superintendent Cade Brumley said Tuesday he couldn’t endorse the state’s newly proposed social studies standards as currently written, even though his department’s steering committee approved the same proposed standards last month.

Brumley said he hasn’t done the due diligence of fully going through the standards yet, but that there are parts of the standards where he has “some concerns” and other parts of the standards that “I look at and say, ‘Oh, that makes sense.”

The new standards have drawn significant interest from the Louisiana Legislature, as the revisions have been significantly tied to conservative concerns about critical race theory that have swept the country. 

Brumley didn’t clarify what concerns he had about the proposed standards. But his comments came the day after a legislative hearing in which several conservatives expressed concerns about the way the proposed standards might influence the teaching of racism and slavery.

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.

Lawmakers during this year’s legislative session proposed multiple bills mandating changes to public schools’ social studies curriculum, including a bill that would’ve banned lessons on systemic racism or sexism currently in the state or country. But none of the bills that would have made it harder to teacher about slavery or sexism made it to the governor’s desk.

The education department found in their review of the old standards that some social studies content is “unnecessarily repeated in multiple grades” and “some essential, highly complex content is taught at the elementary level and never again,” Jenna Chiasson, assistant superintendent for the Louisiana Department of Education, said in August. 

For example, Louisiana seventh graders learn about the era of American Reconstruction, “but the effects and rise of Jim Crow are curiously absent from the high school U.S. history course,” Chiasson said. “This lack of cohesion does not help students form solid chronology, which they need to make valid causal connections.”

Under the proposed new standards, by first grade, students will be expected to “describe democratic principles, including but not limited to equality, freedom, liberty and respect for individual rights.” 

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

And by eighth-grade, students will also be expected to analyze the Civil Rights movement in the context of Jim Crow and the United States’ entry into World War II and events in Europe.

“The goal was to build knowledge chronologically and systematically, beginning in prehistory to 1600 AD,” said Nathan Corley, director of special projects at the Louisiana Department of Education, about the standards last month.

Louisiana’s social studies content standards are supposed to be reviewed and revised every seven years, but were last revised in 2010-2011 — meaning the state is three years overdue for a review and revision.

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education decided Tuesday to extend the deadline for public comment on the proposed standards from Oct. 31 to Nov. 30. Multiple members said they felt the public needed more time to provide feedback on the standards.

Brumley said that they’re reaching out to parents and teachers through Facebook, Twitter and newsletters to get the word out.

“We’re super interested in what the feedback looks like because the department did not develop the standards,” Brumley said. “We facilitated the process.”

The standards were drafted by “two groups of Louisiana educators, a K-5 elementary content expert workgroup and a 6-12 secondary content expert workgroup,” according to the Louisiana Department of Education.

The decision to push back the deadline for public comment also pushed back the rest of the approval timeline. Now, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will consider the standards in January, not December.

The comment portal can be accessed here.

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. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.

MORE FROM AUTHOR