New Mexico’s new education standards teach ethnic, social identity lessons to kindergartners

on Apr14
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New Mexico’s sweeping new changes to the state’s social studies standards, which would introduce racial and social identity lessons to children as young as 5, has some Republicans in the state crying foul.

The standards finalized by the New Mexico Public Education Department in late February state that kindergartners will be required to learn about “identity groups” and will be able to “identify some of their group identities.” They will also learn to “describe ways they are similar and different from people who share their identities and people who don’t.”


In third grade, public school children will be introduced to the subject of “community equity building.” By fifth grade, they’ll be able to “explain how the treatment of groups of people in the past and present impacts who they are.” Seventh-graders will study “the impact of unequal power relations on the development of group identities and culture.”

Pre-kindergarten students listen as their teacher reads a story at Dawes Elementary in Chicago, on Jan. 11. 

Pre-kindergarten students listen as their teacher reads a story at Dawes Elementary in Chicago, on Jan. 11. 
(AP/Chicago Sun-Times)

By eighth grade, students will be able to “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.”

High schoolers will be required to “examine the experiences, activism, and legislation impacting the LGBTQIA+ communities,” as well as “analyze the complex relationship between dominant cultures and minority groups throughout world history, including but not limited to constructions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, differently abled, nationality, class, religion, reactions, and long-term effects of oppression.”

The standards will go into effect in Fall 2023. After hearing public comments from hundreds of parents, teachers and community members, the state’s education department removed “mentions of sexuality, communism, police brutality and gun violence following concerns raised by the public,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s spokeswoman Maddy Hayden told the Associated Press.

State House Minority Whip Rod Montoya has called on school districts to “reject” the new standards.

“As local school officials, you are morally obligated to reject these standards and to proceed serving your community as the autonomous school official you were elected to serve as,” Montoya wrote in a letter shared Tuesday by Republican officials.

State Rep. Greg Nibert, a Republican, slammed the new standards in a statement to Fox News Digital, claiming it teaches racism.

“I do not believe it is appropriate to teach and perpetuate hatred based on race (or any other basis) in our schools,” Nibert said. “If we are to ever heal wounds and truly become a united nation, we must oppose instruction that would put any race down or elevate a race above another. We are all human made in the image of our creator.”

Republican state Rep. Rebecca Dow, who is running for governor, called the new standards “divisive.”

“New Mexico is a state of friendship and united cultures,” she tweeted Thursday. “The last thing our children need after two years of social isolation is to be taught they are oppressors or oppressed based on gender or race they didn’t choose.”

But not all state Republicans agree. 

Republican state Rep. Roger Montoya, who shares the same last name but is not related to the state House minority whip, told Fox News Digital he believes his colleague’s comments “further divide” New Mexicans.


“New Mexico has a richly layered history,” he said. “It is critical that our students have an opportunity to understand the complexity and the harsh realities of our collective past. It is so vital that students use critical thinking so that we don’t repeat those actions.”

“I believe that this call further divides us,” he continued. “One of the most challenging things that I’ve seen in the legislative process is the division between our parties, and I believe that this is a wedge issue that does not help us do the deeper work of building a better New Mexico.”

Fox News’ Matt Leach contributed to this report.

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