E4E-Boston is continuing to fight to pass The Racially and Culturally Inclusive Curriculum Act (H.671/S.304), which would gives students across Massachusetts access to a better, more inclusive curriculum.
Currently, law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only requires that curriculum frameworks “avoid perpetuating harmful racial stereotypes,” but says nothing about elevating BIPOC perspectives, histories, and texts. H.671/S.304, which as 17 co-sponsors, would fix this by elevating the history, achievements, and key writings by communities of color in all subjects, and ensuring input from educators, students, and communities of color when developing new curriculum frameworks.
At a recent Joint Education Committee hearing devoted to all curriculum bills being considered by the Massachusetts legislature, E4E-Boston staff and members submitted testimony urging legislators to swiftly pass this landmark bill.
Boston Public Schools English teacher Shirley Jones Luke used her testimony to paint a picture of what her classroom would look like if The Racially and Culturally Inclusive Curriculum Act became law, saying that “an inclusive curriculum supports and values the myriad of children in a classroom. It is a curriculum that can engage general education students, deepen the language skills of English Language Learners, and provide scaffolds for students with learning disabilities. An inclusive curriculum helps teachers put into place the structures for supporting a diverse classroom. The curriculum creators recognize the importance of educating a diverse group of children. This recognition emphasizes the value of who the children are as learners.”
In previously recorded comments, 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Takeru Nagayoshi shared how the status quo gives his students a narrow view of the world when only one group’s works get to be considered classics. “As a high school Literature teacher, I’m so aware of how our white male-leaning canon makes it difficult for students to access the beauty and humanity of all the other perspectives,” said Nagayoshi. “If we pass this bill, schools will have more tools to ensure this no longer happens.”
E4E-Boston State Director Lisa Lazare recognized the educators’ demands for a more inclusive classroom, and used data from E4E’s Voices from the Classroom survey to show legislators just how many educators agreed with them. “She is not alone in demanding access to a more inclusive curriculum. In E4E’s 2021 survey, Voices from the Classroom, we found that 65% of teachers nationwide do not believe their curriculum is relevant for their student population. In a year defined by racial reckoning, only 30% reported receiving guidance tools or materials for how to talk about racial injustice in their classrooms. We must do better.”
After E4E-Boston’s testimony, Committee Co-Chair Rep. Alice Peisch indicated that the legislature would take action on this pressing issue in some form. Until that happens, E4E-Boston will continue to elevate the need for a more inclusive curriculum however we can. You can join us by going to e4e.org/abc.