The Slatest

Michigan Gubernatorial Candidate Strikes Mention of “Core Democratic Values” From State Social Studies Standards

The Michigan State Capitol building.
The State Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan.
Scott Legato/Getty Images

A Michigan state senator and gubernatorial candidate struck the word “democratic” from the phrase “core democratic values” in the state’s proposed social studies standards, taking issue with what he saw as partisan language, according to a new report.

Bridge magazine, a nonprofit news organization in Michigan, reported on Tuesday that Patrick Colbeck led a group of conservatives in stripping references to gay rights, Roe v. Wade, climate change, the NAACP, and the Ku Klux Klan from the proposed social studies standards for students from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

“They had this term in there called ‘core democratic values,’ ” Colbeck told Bridge. “I said, ‘First of all, core democratic values [is] not politically neutral.’ I’m not proposing core Republican values, either.”

Colbeck has a history of controversial actions, and he has spread inflammatory anti-Muslim conspiracy theories to accuse his political rival of plotting “civilization jihad.”

The focus group responsible for reviewing the standards, which were originally written and reviewed by subject-matter experts, was made of of teachers and representatives of minority groups. But Colbeck found his way on the committee by sending the State Board of Education 13 pages of notes on changes he wanted made.

Of those changes, he asked to cut the one reference to the KKK, all but one reference to the NAACP, both references to LGBT people, both references to Roe v. Wade, and all references to climate change. He also inserted the phrase, “the expansion of rights for some groups can be viewed as an infringement of rights and freedoms of others,” and in a section for a high school course about civil rights, he cut references to immigrants and people with disabilities. He also changed “core democratic values” to “core values” (or deleted the phrase altogether) 13 times.

Other changes he suggested—such as stating that “The KKK was founded as an anti-Republican organization not an anti-black organization” and cutting references to Islam—were ignored.

The standards could be changed again before they are approved, and the public still has time to weigh in.