Republican lawmakers and conservative activists in Michigan have removed references to civil rights and “core democratic values” in state standards for social studies classes.
The public may comment on the proposed new standards until the end of the month, and the State Board of Education will review that feedback in August before voting — although no date for that has been set, reported Bridge Magazine.
Some prominent Michigan conservatives, including state Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton), served on a focus group that included no Democratic lawmakers or activists — and they recommended the curriculum should not include lessons on small-D democratic principles.
“Some believed that even using the word ‘democratic’ implied partisan leanings,” said Rebecca Baker-Bush, president of the Michigan Council for the Social Studies. “That was a new one on me.”
Colbeck, who is running for governor, told the magazine he wanted to offer perspective on both sides of difficult political topics.
The focus group proposed the elimination of references to individual minority groups in state standards on civil rights, and recommended teaching high school students “how the expansion of rights for some groups can be viewed as an infringement of rights and freedoms of others.”
Five existing references to the NAACP were cut, leaving only one, as well as both references to LGBT people in sections on civil rights.
References to climate change were cut, and Colbeck insisted in notes sent to state officials that the issue was “not settled science.”
Colbeck also insisted the phrase “core democratic values” was not political neutral enough for students to learn about.
“They had this term in there called ‘core democratic values,’” Colbeck said. “I said, ‘Whatever we come up with has to be politically neutral, and it has to be accurate.’ I said, ‘First of all, core democratic values (is) not politically neutral.’ I’m not proposing core republican values, either.”
The lone reference to the Ku Klux Klan was cut, but Colbeck’s original recommendation called for teachers to instruct students that the racist hate group “was founded as an anti-Republican organization not an anti-black organization,” saying that most southern blacks were members of the GOP at the time.
Colbeck told participants that he got about 10 percent of his proposed recommendations into the document sent on the state officials.