It’s hard not to pity schoolchildren in New Mexico these days.
The state already has one of the grimmest educational records in the United States—something that parents must consider when weighing relocation opportunities. New social studies standards in the state’s schools reveal this academic morass is now deliberate. The standards’ crafters are much more interested in churning out ultra-"woke" social warriors ready to act out their grievances.
Things couldn’t be that bad, you say? A typical sentence in the standards instructs teachers to have high schoolers “assess how social policies and economic forces offer privilege or systemic inequity in accessing social, political, and economic opportunity for identity groups in education, government, healthcare, industry, and law enforcement.”
Indeed, the standards, approved last year, mention “diversity” 65 times, “identity” 156 times (in just 104 pages!), and “equity” a comparably paltry 29 times. “Systemic,” meanwhile, appears 10 times—nine as in “systemic inequity” and once in the standard version, “systemic oppression.” “Power,” a key term to an ideology that sees all of life in terms of power dynamics, appears 43 times.
Taken together, the standards aim to use social studies to indoctrinate children and turn them into citizens filled with grievances, who identify not with America but with their given ethno-racial or sexual-gender category and who see the world only in terms of these categories jockeying for power with one another.
The classroom thus becomes the fulcrum of revolution, shaping a generation that hates the West and America. Whether it ends with revolution or not, it is almost guaranteed to end with unhappy citizens, for by generating people who hate their country and community, teachers will create people who hate themselves.
This is obviously a problem not limited to New Mexico. There is a slight hope, however, that things can be reversed.
The New Mexico State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is writing a report to advise the state’s Public Education Department on how to implement the standards in light of a key 2018 district court decision.
In Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico, the court found that New Mexico had failed to meet its constitutional obligation to graduate students who are “ready to attend college, pursue a career, and participate in the civic duties of our society.”
More than one study illustrates this sad reality. U.S. News and World Report ranks New Mexico dead last in education and 49th in opportunity. Meanwhile, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called “the nation’s report card,” also shows the state as substantially underperforming, coming below the national average in English, math, etc.
According to the NAEP, the percentage of eighth graders in New Mexico performing at or above the NAEP proficient level in reading was 18% in 2022. And the situation is getting worse, not better.
No one takes any pleasure in reporting this. It is only meant to show what dire straits the state finds itself in.
Nothing in that social studies standard will fix this situation. Nor is it intended to. As I have said, these standards are clearly a how-to for revolution, written by people whose very last priority is helping students in New Mexico.
The veneer of hope is that the NM SAC’s process can now be used to get the state’s Department of Education to reconsider the social studies standards. The NM SAC is tasked with asking whether the standards are “sufficient to meet the requirements as set out by the court, the legislature, and the State of New Mexico’s education standards?”
The answer is clearly “no.” I have provided a comment to the committee, and I encourage others to leave comments as well. I tell the committee that “the social studies standard does not meet the educational requirements of the students of New Mexico; rather, the standard is a meticulous and comprehensive assault on the prevalent cultural system of the United States.” The standards “will in no way help New Mexico students participate in their civic duties of our society if they are taught to abhor that society.” The NMPED must therefore scratch the standards.
Many other states are working to better children’s lives, offering school choice or ensuring that students can get a classical education. New Mexico won’t be able to compete for talent. And its students deserve better than the ideologues who are working to turn underperforming schools into laboratories of revolt.
This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner