By Lois Rudnick, Interfaith Coalition for the Public Schools
First science, now history.
In October, just as New Mexicans were celebrating the Public Education Department’s reversal of its politicized edits to a new science curriculum, state Rep. Andres Romero found more alarming deletions — this time for history class.
Romero, a high-school teacher, and his colleagues noticed the department struck important topics from end-of-course testing in U.S. history.
New Mexico students won’t be tested on monopolies being forced to dismantle during the early 20th century, the racial and ethnic conflict as people moved from farms to cities, or civil-rights leaders such as Rosa Parks and Malcolm X.
End-of-course exams account for 35 percent of teacher evaluations. Thus, while the department hasn’t changed the standards per se, they provide little incentive to teachers to teach what is not on these state-mandated tests. As Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski himself has noted, what doesn’t get tested doesn’t get taught.
On Nov. 14, I testified before the Legislative Education Study Committee about the deletions. I asked legislators: Can students become effective citizens without learning how a bill becomes a law; about the end of slavery as a result of the Industrial Revolution; about the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on Japan? These are just a few examples of what was a clearly ideological agenda behind the blacked-lined topics. Go to www.ped.state.nm.us to see the blueprints.
Hearing testimony also included outrage at the blacklining of topics such as nutrition, alcohol, healthy food choices, healthy versus unhealthy relationships and changes in puberty from the health course.
The Legislature has no direct power to influence the creation of blueprints or standards. But they do have the power of interrogation and public comment.
With continued pressure, Ruszkowski may feel forced to restore or eliminate the blueprints. Without intense public scrutiny and pressure— the kind that resulted in the restoration of the science standards — he won’t.
Write to Ruszknowski at email@example.com — and please copy your legislators.
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Featured image from KOB-TV.