NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Thursday, the state’s Public Education Department spoke with legislators to answer their questions on the approved changes to social study standards in the classroom. Critics asked if critical race theory was going to be included in school classrooms. 

New Mexico’s current social studies standards were last updated more than a decade ago. But not all lawmakers are on the same page when it comes to these new standards. 

The standards vary by grade level and have multiple themes. At Thursday’s presentation, representatives on both sides shared how they feel, with some looking forward to the changes. 

Representative Christine Trujillo shared, “We can’t always address absolutely everything but this creates the starting block from early childhood all the way through K-12 to make sure kids are embracing their culture, their language, the diversity in the community.”

Others have their concerns. Critics of the new social study standards say there are too many elements of critical race theory. “I think what we’re doing is we’re picking a fight that hasn’t existed in this state for some time. Our very pledge says ‘perfect friendship among united cultures,’” said Representative Rod Montoya. 

In the past, the state has said it wants to add ethnic, cultural, and identity studies to the curriculum, and critical race theory isn’t included in those new standards. 

Gwen Warniment, the Deputy Secretary of Teaching, explains, “There is discussion of the impact of racial historical events. For instance, Jim Crow laws….and so when you have Jim Crow laws, what would be the impact of that on people in general?”

Work to revise social studies standards started in July 2020. In June 2021 a report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute rated the state’s current civics standards mediocre and U.S. history standards inadequate. 

Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero added, “Our children don’t have equity because they are not afforded the same resources in order to be able to achieve those goals and expectations.”

Leaders with the Public Education Department say another main focus is to make sure educators are supported and have professional development opportunities. The new standards are finalized and will be brought into the classroom during the 2022-23 school year with full implementation happening in the Fall semester of 2023.