For years, many tribes have felt their history has not been given its due by schools in Connecticut, a state that takes its name from an Algonquian word meaning “land on the long tidal river.” Soon, however, schools will be required to teach Native American studies, with an emphasis on local tribes, under a law passed this year at the urging of tribes including the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, best known today for its Foxwoods Resort Casino. "When you’re in Connecticut, to not learn about the Eastern woodland tribes, the tribes that Connecticut was founded on, (that) was the issue that we were pressing,” said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequots. It has been a long-running goal of many Native people to have more about their history and culture taught in grade schools.
Over the past year, much of the nation’s education discussion has been where learning was taking place: on Zoom? In the classroom? Both? While COVID-19 exacerbated existing inequities around access, focus is now being drawn to what students are learning. Debate over curriculum isn’t new, but has been contested in varying degrees for decades. Before the right-wing-stoked controversy over so-called “Critical Race Theory” there was anger over Common Core standards, and before that No Child Left Behind. What is new is the incredible strides parent and community organizing has made in shifting the curriculum of the nation’s largest school district. Founded in 2006, the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) is a citywide collaborative of community-based organizations organizing the power of parents and community to create a more equitable education system.