State Board of Education members during a board of education meeting held Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022 at an alternative site in Ridgeland. Renovations to the Board's downtown location are currently underway. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

The State Board of Education has adopted new social studies standards that will be implemented in the fall of 2023. 

Late last year, the Mississippi Department of Education was accused of removing civil rights content from the standards, which serve as the framework for social studies instruction for public schools. The accusations led to multiple meetings and conversations where the public aired their numerous frustrations with social studies education. 

An update to the social studies standards was first presented to the State Board of Education in December 2021. The proposed changes removed many specific names, events and details in lieu of more broad descriptions. During the first public hearing in January 2022, education department officials walked back this change to the satisfaction of several groups present. Still, other people expressed concern that officials were adding critical race theory to the standards. MDE officials have repeatedly stated the theory is not taught in K-12 classrooms. 

After releasing an updated version of the standards in September, the department held another public hearing, where advocates pushed for greater inclusion of the disability rights movement. In the written public comments, 120 people asked for greater inclusion of Sikhism in the elective minority studies standards. Changes were made to address both of these concerns in standards that were adopted on Thursday.  

Wendy Clemons, associate superintendent of secondary education, told Mississippi Today the most substantial changes in the new standards are related to the flow of the standards for grades K-6, eliminating repetition and making sure that concepts are built upon one another. She said that in some cases the content itself did change to improve the overall flow, pointing to the sixth grade standards, but said that the changes were largely organizational. 

Tammy Crosetti, curriculum director of secondary education, noted the comprehensive nature of the teacher review committee, which has 62 teachers total representing each congressional district. 

“Educators who are in the classroom teaching (the standards) can be proud of it,” said Clemons. 

The new standards were adopted without any questions or discussion.

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Julia, a Louisiana native, covers K-12 education. She previously served as an investigative intern with Mississippi Today helping cover the welfare scandal. She is a 2021 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied journalism and public policy and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has also been published in The New York Times and the Clarion-Ledger.