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.
Minnesota’s K-12 social studies standards are undergoing extensive revisions in search of a more inclusive approach that teaches about people previously left out of the discussion. A diverse committee’s first draft, now open for public comment, gives greater consideration to the Dakota and Anishinaabe tribes and covers for the first time the civil rights struggles of LGBTQ people. The draft standards, according to Doug Paulson, the state education department’s academic standards director, are “more inclusive” and “culturally affirming.” Still, some committee members think the first draft doesn’t go far enough in that direction.