New Mexico is pushing to be a ‘model’ for how race is taught in U.S. schools

A proposal to overhaul New Mexico's social studies standards has stirred debate over how race should be taught in schools.
By: | January 20, 2022

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A proposal to overhaul New Mexico’s social studies standards has stirred debate over how race should be taught in schools, with thousands of parents and teachers weighing in on changes that would dramatically increase instruction related to racial and social identity beginning in kindergarten.

The revisions in the state are ambitious. New Mexico officials say they hope their standards can be a model for the country of social studies teaching that is culturally responsive, as student populations grow increasingly diverse.

As elsewhere, the move toward more open discussion of race has prompted angry rebukes, with some critics blasting it as racist or Marxist. But the responses also provide a window into how others are wrestling with how and when race should be taught to children beyond the polarizing debates over material branded as “critical race theory.”

The responses have not broken down along racial lines, with Indigenous and Latino parents among those expressing concern in one of the country’s least racially segregated states. While debates elsewhere have centered on the teaching of enslavement of Black people, some discussions in New Mexico, which is 49% Hispanic and 11% Native American, have focused on the legacy of Spanish conquistadors.

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