Students Need to Learn About All Aspects of American History

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs 517-241-4395
Agency: Education

August 10, 2021

LANSING - While critical race theory is not a curriculum taught in Michigan classrooms, students need to learn about race and racism, State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice said today during a meeting of the State Board of Education.

"To choose to ignore race and racism in our teaching is to efface or erase history, implicitly or explicitly, and to shortchange our children, who deserve to learn the full breadth and complexity of our extraordinary history," Dr. Rice said in his remarks.

Critical race theory is not a curriculum, and it is not a pre-K-12 curriculum, Dr. Rice explained-it is in fact an academic umbrella of reflections and writings developed in higher education (colleges, universities, law schools, and graduate schools) since the mid-1970s.

"It is an academic lens or set of lenses developed primarily by those in higher education to consider the elements and impacts of racism and particularly institutional racism on our country and citizenry," he said.

Dr. Rice cited from the U.S. Constitution that America is still striving to be "a more perfect union" and used several examples in American legal and constitutional history how our country has been working to improve itself for the rights and benefit of all of its citizens.

He noted that 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution; multiple U.S. Supreme Court rulings over the years; and landmark civil right laws have all made progress towards forming a more perfect union.

Dr. Rice shared with the State Board of Education that Michigan's children today need to know our history and to consider its layers, its contradictions, and its complexities.

"Race and racism may be inconvenient for some, uncomfortable for others, and searing for still others, but, because they are inextricably a part of our history, they must be taught," Dr. Rice said. "I have confidence in our teachers to work through and teach these challenging issues to share the fullness and complexity of our history with our children….and by extension to permit our young people, armed with a knowledge of the past, to help assess the progress that we have made….and the progress that they wish to help make in their lifetimes."