Foreclosure of Learning about Race: A Critical Race Theory Analysis of Texas’s K-5 Social Studies Standards

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2023-05-16

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Abstract

Background: Persistent, race-based disparities in educational opportunity, rapidly shifting student demographics, social strife, and the ever-polarized political climate collectively evidence the need for a fundamental reconceptualization of how Americans engage with and learn about race. Given the essential role of the public school system in developing future generations of the citizenry, it is imperative to understand whether and to what degree public school curricula address race. Purpose: The K-5 SS standards set the foundations for young learners and how they make sense of the world around them. Properly introducing the topic of race and its myriad implications can help young learners navigate the lenses of awareness, knowledge, understanding, and acceptance. My contribution to this societal mandate begins with examining Texas’s kindergarten through fifth grade (K-5) social studies (SS) standards. Research Questions: (1) To what extent are race, racism, and communities of color addressed in the current K-5 social studies TEKS? (2) To what extent are race, racism, and communities of color addressed in the newly proposed K-5 social studies TEKS? Methods: I utilized a qualitative approach steeped in the traditions of textual analysis. I employed a multistep approach composed of three distinct phases: (1) read and highlighted the standards specifically addressing and/or associating race, racism, individual(s), and/or communities of color, (2) applied inductive and deductive coding schemes to re-readings of standards, and (3) drew upon the tenets of critical race theory to frame emerging themes. Results: The current and newly proposed K-5 SS TEKS fail to provide knowledge that acknowledges racial equity. Instead, it illuminates the institutionalization of race inequity and unmistakably decorates the current and newly proposed SS TEKS as colorblind. Even though my findings identified a circuitous presentation of race and racism, it is indirectly done so through subliminal language intrinsically woven into the standards. Conclusion: This study amplifies the educational, racial, and national need for standards to be analyzed conscientiously through a radically race-conscious lens and provides implications for practices, policy, and future research in K12 education on the matter of equitable inclusion of race, racism, and/or communities of color.

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Keywords

Race, Racism, Communities of Color, Race in Education, Race-Conscious, Social Studies Standards, Political Power, Critical Race Theory, CRT, Qualitative, Textual Analysis, American History, Texas, TEKS

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