PUSD Anti-Racist Curriculum
PUSD Anti-Racist Curriculum
Dear board members of Peoria Unified School District, Superintendent Mr. Jason Reynolds, and principals of PUSD high schools;
Within the past few months, the protests that swept the country after the murder of George Floyd and all victims of police brutality have sparked discussion in nearly every household. It is critical to engage in uncomfortable conversations about systemic and individualized racism not only at home and in the workplace, but at school.
As Dr. Gabriel Trujillo, the superintendent of Tuscon Unified School District said regarding the civil unrest, “As educators, we understand that our greatest and most effective method of changing the world is through the children we educate and our most powerful tool is the classroom.”
In order to use our most powerful tool to the best of its ability, I suggest a modification of the curriculum of English and history classes to address systemic racism, center minority perspectives and to honor the diversity of all students. I call on PUSD to ensure that schools create and implement an anti-racist curriculum that strays away from the "fundamental" history that centers white people, white perspectives and whiteness as a whole. In addition, PUSD needs to require the inclusion of BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) and anti-racist authors so the voices of marginalized communities can be heard.
Too many generations of students have graduated without an understanding of the true historical significance and systemic oppression of numerous communities. In order to create an environment that prioritizes the learning of ALL students, I call on PUSD to create a curriculum that centers BIPOC voices.
(1) In order to achieve this, high school English and history classes must require:
I. At least 1 BIPOC historian/author sharing their experiences as it relates to their race and/or ethnicity. Recommendations: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1k1tbnVYg2FQmBvPrWFMuMh6zQ89et2DMjaX0XqmUXlc/edit?usp=sharing
II. At least 1 anti-racist text per semester. Recommendations: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_uZoTng0RiAkUhP1OJVQgM9DmyQGWGquI6asw-Eq_aQ/edit?usp=sharing
III. Individualized lessons on BIPOC histories and literature.
IV. Teachings of micro-aggressions, implicit biases, and how to combat them from experts.
Having open conversations with children about race creates opportunities to provide them with accurate information so that when they see stereotypes or hear misinformation, they have their own foundation of factual knowledge and understanding from which to draw (Tatum, 2017).
However, creating an inclusive environment goes beyond that. Connecting modern-day issues with history will help combat ignorance. Many people view racism as a thing of the past because they fail to learn about lasting effects. From the realities of white colonization, to civil rights, to modern day slavery, students are never taught a comprehensive view of history about this country.
(2) In order to teach students that historical atrocities ranging from segregation to concentration camps are not distant events of the past, I demand that you include these topics as standards in the curriculum of U.S. History, including AP/IB expansions:
I. Elaborate on the contributions of members of the numerous underrepresented groups in the founding and construction of the U.S. through in-depth teachings of historical events/figures.
II. Elaborate on how segregation has a lasting effect today in African American communities and continues to contribute to systemic racism. Reference present-day housing inequality that contributes to other disparities between minorities and whites today (redlining, gentrification, de facto segregation, etc.).
III. Analyze the effect of colonization on Native American communities today (neglected reservations, why the Navajo nation had the third-highest per capita rate of COVID-19 in the country, etc.).
IV. Discuss how xenophobia in government institutions has sought to isolate Asian Americans in history and today (yellow peril, Muslim ban, Japanese internment camps, etc.).
V. Explain how slavery directly fueled the “cycle of poverty” and systemic disinvestment from Black communities that still exists today. (The Cash Bail System, The School to Prison Pipeline, The War on Drugs, etc.).
VI. Discuss the origins of large-scale government institutions and how racism is intertwined in its roots and operations (police, prison-industrial complex, Tuskegee Experiment, etc.).
VII. Require that implicit bias professionals and racial equity experts provide bi-annual trainings for all PUSD staff in order to equip and educate the individuals teaching these concepts.
VIII. Require a voluntarily task force composed of teachers that will create & issue guidelines that ensure these texts are taught with proper tools to ensure racial sensitivity.
There is much more to do to combat racism in the classroom. Nonetheless, this is a big first step in amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups, connecting history with modern-day issues and overall to create an inclusive environment for all people. As a school district, I understand the need to stick to a certain protocol. Although I recognize some teachers make efforts to include diverse perspectives, it should no longer be optional to do so. Especially at this time, it is necessary that students have the resources to absorb anti-racist perspectives to combat ignorance. To “not be racist” is not enough.