A Better Curriculum

Creating Inclusive and Effective Curriculum
October 2020

Every Boston Public Schools (BPS) student deserves access to a curriculum that is high-quality and culturally responsive, but the district currently has no official system to vet and recommend curricula. This insufficient approach to curriculum in Boston Public Schools is uneven, leading to inequitable outcomes for students.

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.” Boston teachers agree. In E4E’s Voices from the Classroom: a Survey of America’s Educators 2020, only 25% of Boston teachers said that curricula were accessible for all learners in their classrooms. Months later, an English Language Arts curriculum selected by BPS was found to have 78% of its texts overwhelmingly written by white authors.

It is clear that we need to push Superintendent Brenda Cassellius the Boston School Committee to to do more to provide high-quality, anti-racist curricula options for schools to adopt. Beyond that, we must also urge the Massachusetts General Court to introduce legislation requiring curricula taught statewide to be actively anti-racist.

Recommendations

Vet and Recommend High-Quality Curricula

  • Boston Public School's Office of Academic and Professional Learning must establish an official process to vet and recommend high-quality K-8 curricula to campuses, as well as a plan to monitor their implementation.
  • The Office of Academic and Professional Learning should preserve school autonomy but offer improved coherence and student access to high-quality learning by designating a single preferred (but not required) curriculum for each grade level/subject area.

Establish and Require an Antiracism Lens for Curricula Statewide

  • File legislation in the Massachusetts General Court to establish equity and diversity criteria that all state-approved curricula must meet.

Next Steps

  • Boston Public Schools must have the revised curriculum process in place by the end of this academic year in June 2021, and preferred curricula should be selected and communicated no later than May 2022. At the start of the 192nd General Court in January 2021 legislation to create antiracist curriculum criteria must be filed and prioritized.

About the Teacher Action Team

Thank you to more than 100 of our fellow Boston Public Schools educators who shared their experiences and views on how to improve the district’s approach to the curriculum following the release of the state’s audit. The Teacher Action Team shaped these recommendations based on the challenges and successes educators relayed in these conversations.

Aded Abioye
Third Grade Teacher at Higginson-Lewis School
Chantel Alves
Third Grade Teacher at Paul A. Dever School
Katie Caster
Science Teacher at Oliver Hazard Perry School
Savannah Lodge-Scharff
AP Physics Teacher at Madison Park Vocational Technical High School
Joellen Persad
Physics Teacher at Madison Park Vocational Technical High School
Francis Pina
Math Teacher at Charlestown High School