Maryland Elementary Schoolers To Learn About Privilege and Systemic Racism

Montgomery County to teach Southern Poverty Law Center-inspired ‘social justice’ curriculum

A parent drops off a child at Strathmore Elementry School October 23, 2002, in Aspen Hill, Md. / Getty Images
July 13, 2022

Maryland’s largest school district next school year will teach elementary schoolers how to combat "privilege" and "systemic racism," even as about half of its students lack proficiency in math and language arts.

The Montgomery County Board of Education amended its fourth and fifth grade social studies curriculum to include "Social Justice Standards" for "antiracist" education, according to a July 5 announcement. The revised standards, which were developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, lay out scenarios for students to exercise "antibias," such as responding to a classmate with two mothers or a boy playing with dolls. Students also learn about their "identity" in the context of the "dominant culture" and "recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination)."

The curriculum, which will take effect in 2023-2024 school year, comes as Montgomery County’s most recent report card reveals elementary school students did not meet district-mandated academic achievement goals. Report cards also have not been published since the pandemic.

A mother of a rising fifth grader at Montgomery County Public Schools told the Washington Free Beacon the standards are reminiscent of her upbringing in Poland before the fall of the Soviet Union. She said she doesn't want her children to carry the heavy burden of indoctrination that she had to bear growing up in a communist nation.

"It's robbing children of their childhood," she said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing her job. "I am not against social justice at all. I am not against equality, but I feel like this has to be an organic conversation between a parent and a child. ... Adults are pushing their agenda on children. I just don't think this is the right thing to do. It's so disheartening and upsetting."

Democrats and left-wing school officials across the country have advocated for education initiatives to forthrightly teach children about systemic racism. Last week, Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes called the founding of the United States "awful" and said the country must take steps to "repair the harm" through education, the Free Beacon reported. Public school officials in Virginia in 2021 forced teachers to update curricula with lessons on identity and privilege to dismantle "white supremacy" and "systemic racism." One third grade teacher in California asked students last year to identify themselves as "privileged" or "oppressed."

Harold Maldonado, the father of a rising fourth grader at MCPS, told the Free Beacon he is "concerned and appalled" at what his child will be taught and is considering homeschooling.

"We as parents need to wake up and see the writing on the wall because our kids are being taught inappropriate things," Maldonado said. "I want my kid to learn about math and history, and for her to improve her reading, and this is not what education is about."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a wealthy liberal advocacy group, began its effort to remake America's classrooms in 1991, encouraging "tolerance" education while promoting the work of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, who founded the Weather Underground, a left-wing, militant group responsible for multiple bombings in the 1970s. In 2018, the SPLC published a report titled "Teaching Hard History: American Slavery," which suggested educators had not given sufficient attention in curricula to the issue of slavery in the nation's history. As part of a network of other left-wing groups, the SPLC has developed the standards now known to push critical race theory in schools.

MCPS is in the process of developing similar curricula for kindergarten through third grade to institute by 2026. Its curriculum office did not respond to a request for comment.