MIDDLETON, WI- During the Middleton-Cross Plains Board of Education meeting earlier this month, several community members and parents spoke during public comment in support of the new freshman social studies course.
Director of High School Education Laura Love, Middleton High School Principal Peg Shoemaker, and several other members from the high school team highlighted the need for curriculum and instruction renewal in social studies at the secondary level.
The development and implementation of the course has been two years in the making, with the MHS Social Studies Department continuing the work throughout the summer.
The 9th-grade U.S. History course is Land, People, and Power: An Ethnic Studies Approach to U.S. History. It will be more intentional about including perspectives of all members of U.S. communities--from Asian, African American, Indigenous populations to Whites, and including students in the LGBTQ+ communities and those with special and unique needs.
Parent Laura Crow, who spoke during the public comment section of the board meeting, is very familiar with Middleton-Cross Plains School District and supported the 9th-grade curriculum change. Her children have attended Elm Lawn Elementary, Northside Elementary, Kromrey Middle, Middleton High, and Clark Street Community School.
"I am here tonight to say thank you to all of you for your continued commitment in preparing our students for the world they will one day inhabit and not the world of our collective remembering," said Crow. "Yes, there will be some hard truth, but we can handle those truths, but it means we need to be willing to stay in a place of discomfort until we break through."
Not all parents were able to make the meeting in person; some submitted written comments.
"Our public schools must prepare our youth to be knowledgeable, socially aware, and respectful as they move into our complex society and the world beyond borders," wrote parent Joann Boushon.
To design this course teams identified priority standards using the Wisconsin Social Studies Standards. Moreover, they found the MCPASD Portrait of a Graduate (POAG) guidelines to identify and align priority standards, curriculum content, and instructional approaches.
POAG was crafted with input from a wide array of approximately 1250 staff, students, family and community members through a broad-based survey and several meetings to process the feedback.
Director Laura Love, mentioned that while they considered all six competencies, three helped them shape the new social studies course, including:
● Culturally Competent - aware of one's own worldview and able to effectively interact with
people across cultures
● Compassionate - able to understand and show concern for others' feelings and experiences
● Critical Thinker - forms a judgment through close analysis of information
Land, People, and Power: An Ethnic Studies Approach to U.S. History will begin during the 2021-22 school year for all 9th-grade students. An email communication and video was sent out to all 9th-grade families earlier this month explaining the course.