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Global climate change, gay rights, Roe v. Wade all make it back into Michigan’s social studies standards

Anthony Lanzilote

Roe v. Wade is back. So are references to global climate change, gay rights, and democratic values. Those are among the topics that were revived in the latest draft of Michigan’s social studies standards, which stirred controversy last year amid accusations that prominent conservatives played too large a role in their rewriting.

The new draft will be presented to the State Board of Education April 9, and a series of listening sessions for the public will be held from April 24 to May 9.

The board could adopt the standards as soon as June. State exams eventually will be based on the revised standards.

Last spring, the revision of standards originally adopted in 2007 created a furor after Bridge Magazine and subsequent media reports noted that references to Roe v. Wade, climate change, gay rights, and democratic values were among the topics deleted from the standards.

The controversy was fueled by the inclusion of former Republican Senator Patrick Colbeck and several other conservatives in focus groups that helped guide the revision process. Fourteen writers and reviewers, all of them social studies experts, had also been part of the revision process. An additional 21 people were part of the focus groups.

After the uproar, the Michigan Department of Education scheduled additional listening sessions, and last fall the department created a task force to take another stab at revising the standards, using input from the listening sessions.

Many of the biggest concerns raised last year about topics deleted from the standards were addressed in this latest revision.

As the task force was put together, “We did not ask about anybody’s political persuasion,” said Linda Forward, senior executive policy adviser for the state education department.

Below, see side-by-side versions of the standards as they were revised last year and the current revision. You can find a side-by-side comparison of the 2007 standards to the current revision here.

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