(COLORADO SPRINGS) — In a 4 to 3 party-line vote, the Colorado Board of Education voted in favor to update social studies standards in grades K-12.
“The board received hundreds of emails, they received a lot of feedback through the database, and some were in favor of the recommended revisions and some were not in favor of the recommended revisions,” said Joanna Bruno, Executive Director of Learning and Teaching for Colorado Department of Education.
Every six years, academic standards are reviewed to make necessary changes or updates.
“The standards are reviewed every six years because I think things change over time,” said Bruno. “And they want to make sure that we are benchmarked to the highest national and international benchmark and that’s also a legislative requirement within the standards revision process.”
The revised academic standards will add minority groups into history and civic lessons in public schools and adopt standards for Holocaust and genocide instruction.
“So there’s different scope and sequence that are associated with the social studies standards,” said Bruno. “So different grades focus on different things.”
One organization in support of the updated revisions was the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition.
“Colorado is a diverse state and every district is a diverse district and we have families of all backgrounds and students of all backgrounds,” said Lorena Garcia, CEO of Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition. “And it is absolutely vital that in our social studies content standards, that when we are teaching factual history and we’re not trying to change it, manipulate it or whitewash it to make some people more comfortable.”
The Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition worked to inform community members of the need to have standards updated.
“So our organizers, our team, we started going to all of our programs, reaching out to our groups and our program groups within the coalition to let them know that this is happening,” said Garcia.
Part of the discussion was adding ethnic and religious groups and LGBTQ+ people in social studies standards.
“I just want to reiterate that we never should have gone to this point in the first place. These standards should have been approved in April,” said Garcia. “We never needed to go through this painful process of bringing out hate and exposing our students to the disdain that some people have towards them.”
Garcia shared that in next school year, the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition will help parents be aware of these new updates.
“One of the things that we will be doing as an organization is informing our parents around what the standards are so that they can make sure that their kids are actually learning these standards,” said Garcia. “We know that… there’s this challenge, if you will, of what the state content standards are and local control.”
School districts have until the 2024-25 school year to bring the new standards into their curriculum.