The Washington, D.C., State Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a new K-12 social studies curriculum designed to "incorporate the histories and perspectives of historically marginalized groups."
The new standards will go into effect beginning in the 2024-25 school year. The standards, which have not been updated since 2006, have been under review since April 2020.
The Social Studies Standards Guiding Principles, released in December 2020, directed the school board to develop curriculum materials that are "actively anti-racist, and that explicitly address discrimination against traditionally marginalized groups." They also state that social studies lessons should "focus on the tenets of critical race theory (CRT) when describing power structures and systems."
Under the new curriculum, fourth-graders are expected to "evaluate the significance of 1619," an indication that the curriculum intends to reframe the narrative of American history around racial oppression. The fourth grade curriculum also refers to the "contradictions" of both the American Founders and the Declaration of Independence.
Seventh-graders are also encouraged to evaluate George Washington’s "legacy as an enslaver" while studying early American history.
When studying World War II, fifth-graders will examine the experiences of "Latinx, Indigenous, [and] LGBTQ+" servicemen returning home after the war.
The new curriculum will also direct students to "create plans to affect [sic] change."
Fifth-graders, for example, will "develop a plan for taking action to address an issue of local, national, or global concern." Eighth-graders will learn to "use technology and online platforms for civic engagement and to drive social change."
Students in high school Government and Civics classes are required to "evaluate the effectiveness of United States Government's response to the threat of climate change, and develop a corresponding plan of action."
Such calls to action are absent from the previous guidelines.
D.C. is the latest locality to introduce an "anti-racist" curriculum. In 2020, nearby Fairfax County Public Schools revamped its history curriculum using materials developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Biden administration has awarded grants to fund "climate justice" curricula in elementary schools.