NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – For the first time in twenty years, the state’s social studies curriculum is being updated, and it’s drawing criticism from both lawmakers and parents. From the very beginning of that conversation, one of the biggest concerns has been the implementation of critical race theory.

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“I want to be very clear, the standards do not have any critical race theory,” said Dr. Gwen Perea Warniment, deputy secretary of teaching, learning and assessment. “They are not taught in a K-12 setting.”

In September, the Republican Party of New Mexico said the new proposals, specifically CRT, would teach students that our country is bad. Dr. Perea Warniment said that critical race theory is not included in the new standards but historical accuracy is, saying the two are very different but can be confused.

The New Mexico Public Education Department says the last time social studies standards were overhauled was in 2001, before major world events like 9/11, the Great Recession, and the Afghan War, and it’s the department’s duty to provide students with knowledge of known facts. Right now, social studies are taught under four main pillars, civics, economics, geography, and history. The state wants to add ethnic, cultural, and identity studies.

“They show and demonstrate the variety, the diversity of who we are as New Mexican students,” said Dr. Perea Warniment. “It’s imperative that students see themselves in the curriculum,” she said.

State Republicans say those changes would take history and make it political. NMPED is still accepting public comment until Friday, and then they’ll host a public hearing over Zoom the same day, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Once public comment is complete, NMPED will edit the social studies draft accordingly. The new standards will then be implemented in the fall of 2023.