The status quo approach to curriculum in Massachusetts schools does nothing to build racially and culturally responsive knowledge or combat racial and cultural bias.
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.
To end this inequity, a group of E4E-Boston educators gathered to develop solutions and try to imagine what a better, more inclusive curriculum could look like. As a result, the A Better Curriculum (ABC) campaign was formed to fight for anti-racist, quality curriculum in Massachusetts.
This advocacy helped lead to a bill called The Racially Culturally Inclusive K-12 Curriculum Act being filed in the Massachusetts House (H.671, sponsored by Rep. Tram Nguyen) and Massachusetts Senate (S.304, sponsored by Sen. Brendan Crighton) on February 19th. E4E-Boston is proud to endorse and support this bill, and urges Massachusetts legislators to pass it by the deadline of July 2022.
What will the bill do?
- Require all new frameworks created by the Commonwealth to be “designed to build racially and culturally responsive knowledge and to combat racial and cultural bias.”
- Elevate the history, achievements, and key writings by communities of color in all subjects
- Ensure input from educators, students, and communities of color when developing new curriculum frameworks.
- Establish a formal process for complaints about curriculum standards to be registered by educators
What will the bill not do?
- The bill does not require new funding streams or immediate overhaul, it only requires that going forward DESE meet new criteria during its regular framework updates
Learn more about our educator-led plan to achieve this better curriculum by reading our A Better Curriculum (ABC) campaign memo.
E4E-Boston educators worked hard to design, write, and advocate for a bill that creates antiracist curriculum frameworks in Massachusetts. Now, the Racially and Culturally Inclusive Curriculum Act is a reality and has a real chance at passing in the Massachusetts legislature. Help show decision-makers that it has broad support by adding your name to our petition.
What Educators and Other Experts Say
Our call for BPS and Massachusetts to act on this urgent issue is informed by local, state, and national statistics that indicate we need a change:
E4E-Boston State Director had an op-ed published in Commonwealth Magazine where she shares her experience with inclusive curriculum in the classroom and urges legislators to support The Racially and Culturally Inclusive Curriculum Act
BPS teacher, E4E-Boston member, and co-author of the ABC memo Joellen Persad shared with Today.com how systemic racism can be perpetuated through schools and curriculum
In E4E's Voices from the Classroom: A Survey of America's Educators 2020, just 25% of Boston teachers said that curricula was accessible for all learners in their classrooms
The 2021 version of Voices from the Classroom further found that 65% of teachers nationwide do not believe their curriculum is relevant for their student population. Also, 62% of teachers nationwide are concerned about systemic racism in their schools, but only 30% report receiving guidance tools or materials for how to talk about racial injustice in their classrooms
An ELA curriculum selected by BPS was found to have 78% of its texts written by white authors
In March of 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education found that BPS approached curriculum in a way that was “inconsistent” and the district is “unable to identify which curricula are being used in each of the district schools”
Stanford University finds that culturally responsive curricula increase student attendance by 21 percent, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23 percent
Why do we need this bill?
This spring, a bad-faith campaign has sprung up to deny educators the freedom to teach about the systemic inequalities that deny too many students the opportunity to succeed. This group, whose efforts have already led to chilling of educator speech and even the firing of educators, must not be allowed to dominate the narrative. We must not let them deny educators the freedom to teach about the systemic inequalities that deny too many students the opportunity to succeed.
Our proposed legislation is far from radical, and is based on laws that have been embraced by states from across the political spectrum. Here are just a few pieces of similar legislation that have passed recently:
- Nevada requires standards of “content and performance for ethnic and diversity studies for pupils enrolled in high school.”
- Nebraska requires civics courses in all grades to “include and adequately stress contributions of all ethnic groups to the development and growth of America into a great nation, art, music, education, medicine, literature, science, politics, and government, and the military in all of this nation's wars.”
- Virginia passed legislation providing standards that include “Slavery, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of historical dehumanizing injustice and discrimination; The ignored and untold history of the indigenous people of Virginia and North America; and. The untold histories of other groups historically underrepresented in American and world history.”
Spread the Word
Can’t make it out to one of our events? Support the campaign by sharing one of the messages below on social media.
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