More public input sought on Michigan's social studies standards

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News
Michigan Department of Education social studies consultant Jim Cameron, left, and Scott Koenig, social studies consultant for assessment, answer questions from the audience at a "Listen & Learn" session in Waterford Township in June.

The state education department has arranged six new sessions across the state to collect public input on proposed changes to state social studies standards for public schools.

The Michigan Department of Education announced the new dates on Thursday for what they call "Listen & Learn" sessions.

“We want to hear from residents across Michigan and get their feedback on updating the state’s content standards for social studies in our K-12 schools,” Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles said.

“Interest in the proposed updated standards was so great that we decided to extend public comment and add these six additional input sessions around the state.”

Input still can be provided online through Sept. 30 at

When the public comment period ends, the education department's panel of experts will review the comments and make adjustments to the recommended standards.

The proposed standards will go to the State Board of Education to consider for adoption.

State standards set expectations for what students are to learn by the end of each grade. State assessments are based on those standards.

The proposed changed came under controversy when proposed revisions to the standards by Republican state Sen. Patrick Colbeck that include removing references to climate change, gays and lesbians and the term "core Democratic values."

Colbeck, R-Canton Township, who is a gubernatorial candidate, said he advocated for the removal of the word “democratic” not because it sounds similar to "Democrat" but because students in school learn that the American system of government is a “republic.”  

A 14-member leadership group of social studies experts has been working on revising the standards for four years.

An additional 21 people were part of a focus group, including Colbeck, that formed after 2015 when the state Board of Education voiced its concerns about diversity and number of voices at the table to put standards together. 

The sessions added run from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.:

Aug. 8 in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo Central High School Auditorium, 2432 North Drake Road

Aug. 9 in Ann Arbor 

Washtenaw ISD, 31819 South Wagner Road

Sept. 13 in Detroit

King High School, 3200 E. Lafayette St.

Sept. 18 in Marquette 

Marquette-Alger RESA, 321 Ohio St.

Sept. 19 in Gaylord

University Center of Gaylord, 80 Livingston Blvd.

Sept. 20 in Mount Pleasant

Central Michigan University, Bovee University Center, 103 East Preston St.