Oregon has set new curriculum guidelines that include making kindergarteners understand their “identity” and focusing on other issues related to race, gender and religion.
The revised standards will have kindergarteners analyze their racial differences in order to “define diversity” by “comparing and contrasting visible and invisible similarities and differences.”
These young children also will develop “an understanding of one’s own identity groups including, but not limited to, race, gender, family, ethnicity, culture, religion, and ability.”
Kindergarteners also will be asked to identify “examples of unfairness or injustice towards individuals or groups” and come up with “solutions to injustices.”
Critics worry that these changes will actually reinforce racism and are the result of a radical push to include woke ideologies such as Critical Race Theory-inspired instruction in public education.
While an ODE spokesperson told Fox News that Critical Race Theory “is not mandated by any standards,” he went on to say, “[I]t is clear that racial equity be addressed to support every learner. We know there are long-standing inequities in our systems that have led to gaps in outcomes for students of color.”
But critics continue to push back, saying that focusing on race and other differences, especially in early education, might actually promote the very biases being targeted.
This woke approach to race and identity is what Zaid Jilani calls “racialism.” In an article for Persuasion, Jilani writes that the revised standards in Oregon encourage “students to see others as members of certain identity groups rather than as individuals.
“There is a danger that children will come to identify strongly with racial labels and start segregating themselves based on them.”
And many teachers want nothing to do with it. It led former second-grade teacher Jennifer Tafuto of Connecticut to resign, fed up with the requirement to make her students focus so much on race.
“My students were 7 and 8 years old. … I felt that there was such a focus on skin color rather than kindness and acceptance,” she told The Lion after she resigned last year.
In Oregon, it is not just the earliest grades affected by the curriculum updates – all Oregon students will see similar revisions. For example, first graders will now “describe how individual and group characteristics are used to divide, unite, and categorize racial, ethnic, and social groups.”
Third graders will “identify how systems of power, including white supremacy, institutional racism, racial hierarchy, and oppression affect the perspectives of different individuals and groups.”
Eighth graders will understand “the importance of advocacy and activism related to socio-economic resistance (i.e. civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights, worker’s rights) for the expansion of justice, equality, and equity.”
High school students in Oregon also will see similar curriculum revisions.
These new standards are currently optional but will be mandated in the state of Oregon beginning in the 2026-2027 school year.
Curriculum revisions like these have been springing up across the United States, raising the alarm of parents who are increasingly demanding more transparency. This demand has led a number of states to introduce education transparency bills so that parents can stay informed about what their children are learning.