Michigan Council for the Social Studies Affirms Dr. Rice’s Statement
On August 10, State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice shared his “Reflections on Critical Race Theory, Race, Racism, Other Isms, and the Teaching of History.” As the largest organized group of social studies educators in the state, we strongly agree with Dr. Rice’s statement. Social studies education has been a topic of debate for national and state legislatures and local school boards this year. This debate has resulted in a number of bills introduced in state legislatures concerning what should or should not be taught in PK-12 social studies classrooms, including legislation proposed in Michigan. We are pleased to see citizens engaging in discussions surrounding citizenship, race, gender, equity, and other social studies topics. However, there are many misconceptions, misinformation, and direct attacks on social studies education within these debates. Critical race theory has been used by some as an argument to ban the teaching of such concepts as race, racism, white supremacy, equity, justice, and social-emotional learning, as well as to limit the teaching of content such as slavery, Black history, women’s suffrage, and civil rights. This is troubling for the future of social studies education.
In this statement, Dr. Rice shared his views with the State Board of Education on the importance of teaching about race, racism, and discrimination in K-12 classrooms: "To choose to ignore race and racism in our teaching is to efface or erase history, implicitly or explicitly, and to shortchange our children, who deserve to learn the full breadth and complexity of our extraordinary history." Dr. Rice also accurately described critical race theory as “an academic lens or set of lenses developed primarily by those in higher education to consider the elements and impacts of racism and particularly institutional racism on our country and citizenry.” He reiterates that critical race theory is not a K-12 curriculum, that local school districts are responsible for creating their own curricula, and affirms his confidence in educators to help their students understand complex issues.
Accurate and truthful representation of historical events is necessary and beneficial for all students to learn. MCSS does not support the censorship or suppression of factual information that prevents students from engaging in inquiries for making decisions and drawing conclusions. Social studies educators have a pivotal role in providing high quality learning for their students in the classroom and in making decisions to provide current and factual content to students. We wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Rice when he says, "We teach history so that we can learn from it: so as not to relive the tragic moments and to help continue our inexorable progress as Americans to keep building a more perfect union."