One more time: CRT not taught here
In a recent appearance in Coeur d’Alene, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra spoke about critical race theory, civics education and a few other subjects on her mind.
Her comments generated a lot of attention locally and around Idaho, which prompted us to clarify, once again, that critical race theory is not taught in Coeur d’Alene public schools, nor is it embedded in our curriculum, operating plans or staff training programs.
Rather than continue discussing what the district isn’t doing, we’d like to highlight what we are teaching.
Superintendent Ybarra spoke of her interest in seeing more civics education in public schools.
“And I don’t mean fourth-grade Idaho history and then again some generic government class in high school,” she said in her public remarks. “I want to see standalone civics where our voters are getting that opportunity to hear how to be civically engaged.”
We think our community will be pleased to know we provide a robust, comprehensive government and civics education to all students in the Coeur d’Alene School District, from elementary through middle and high school. There’s more going on than you may realize.
Idaho State Content Standards require civics beginning in kindergarten, wherein they begin to build “an understanding of the foundational principles of the American political system, the organization and formation of the American system of government, and that all people in the United States have rights and assume responsibilities.”
Here in the Coeur d’Alene School District, we intentionally build our students’ foundational knowledge in civics and American government to provide a comprehensive and robust education. This includes lessons on the roles and responsibilities of citizenship throughout our social studies curriculum, from kindergarten through high school.
Beginning in kindergarten, students are taught units on rights and responsibilities, presidents and patriots, good citizens, American monuments and celebrate America. This grows in the first grade, when students spend the first nine weeks of the year learning civics and government: rights and responsibilities. The second quarter, they learn American history: families, traditions and symbols.
In third grade, students again spend the entire first quarter learning about civics and government, and the second and third quarters learning American history. In fourth grade, students focus on Idaho history for the entire year, and in fifth grade we expand their understanding of U.S. government and the rights and responsibilities that accompany it.
In middle school, students build on their understanding of the history of the world, and in eighth grade continue learning about U.S. government and citizen rights and responsibilities.
Beginning in middle school and extending into high school, students are able to take the civics exam, which they must pass to graduate.
In high school, students receive a greater understanding of citizen rights and responsibilities through U.S. history their junior year, and both economics and U.S. government their senior year. Additionally, our U.S. government courses are far from generic. Rather, they require students to develop in-depth knowledge of the origins and branches of government and the people, events and documents that shape it.
Year after year, students expand and deepen their understanding of civics. Year after year, they study the foundational documents that influenced and formed this government: the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, among others.
Year after year they learn more about the people and events that shaped our nation. They learn about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. They practice being good citizens, first in their schools, so that they can transfer this learning to their communities, state, nation and world.
Students are exposed to far more than merely Idaho history in fourth grade plus some generic government class in high school.
We all know it’s far too important to wait until high school to delve deeply into civics, government and American history. That is why we intentionally build our students’ foundational knowledge to provide in-depth civics and government education throughout their educational journey.
Katie Graupman is curriculum director for Coeur d’Alene Public Schools.