Iowa City Community School District pauses social studies for 3-5 grade to look at cultural inclusiveness of material

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 3:53 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa City Community School District has paused social studies lessons for third through fifth graders to review the material for cultural inclusiveness.

In a statement, the District wrote, “We are pausing the teaching of social studies in grades 3, 4, and 5 for a few weeks while we identify instructional resources that are culturally inclusive of all of our students. It is our intent that social studies instruction in these grades will resume shortly. Teachers are encouraged to focus on Science and Health during this time so that more time can be devoted to Social Studies later in the school year. Social studies is also in the process of conducting a comprehensive review of its curriculum as part of the District’s curriculum review cycle. One aspect of that review will be the selection and implementation of new social studies materials K-6 for the 2021-2022 school year.”

Christian Prochaska, the parent of a fifth-grade student in the district, said he is frustrated with the lack of transparency because parents were not informed of the change. He said it wasn’t until his child’s parent-teacher conference that he found out social studies were no longer being taught. At that time, the subject had already been paused for a couple of weeks.

“The opportunity for parents to understand that their students weren’t going to be taught those subjects would have been nice for parents to know as well as a plan for what’s going to be implemented going forward,” Prochaska said.

With less than a trimester left to go, Prochaska is wondering why this change happened so suddenly.

“I think with the kids going through everything that they’ve gone through this year and then kind of abruptly towards the end of the school year we decide to pull that curriculum without a plan going forward at least relayed to the parents,” Prochaska said.

Documents on the district’s website show the social studies topics normally taught include discussions on “Community and Beyond” in third grade. For example, “Identify the impact of culture as it relates to living in a community.”

Fourth-grade content is titled, “Regions of the United States.” For example, “Identify the impact of culture as it relates to the different regions of the United States.”

In fifth grade, the topic is “U.S. History (exploration through westward movement) and Iowa History.”

The district declined to comment on exactly what part of the curriculum is being reviewed at each grade level or what they plan to replace it with. They said they will not be commenting further until their review process is complete.

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