Spokane School Board will discuss creating ‘anti-racist’ environment

Spokane Public Schools

SPOKANE, Wash – As controversy swirls nationwide over the teaching of sensitive cultural issues in public schools, the Spokane Public Schools board will discuss a plan Wednesday to continue that work in local schools.

The issue has been a priority for the board, identified as “culturally responsive curriculum and training.”

The plan, outlined in a power point presentation for the school board, includes plans for implementing that and metrics to see how it’s working.

For elementary schools, the plan includes “project-based learning support” in social studies teaching. It also suggests working with an organization called TNTP on a curriculum audit.

TNTP’s website says it’s an organization whose “mission is to end the injustice of educational inequality by providing excellent teachers to the students who need them most and by advancing policies and practices that ensure effective teaching in every classroom.”

In secondary schools, professional development includes “Teaching Hard History: inclusive of lesson sharing of culturally responsive lesson plans and strategies as well as cultivating awareness of culturally sensitive topics encountered in teaching history.”

The plan also calls for book studies for staff, specifically the Doris Kearns Goodwin Book Leadership in Turbulent Times, which discusses how four U.S. presidents led in times of crisis; Stamped, which is a book for young adults on anti-racism; Teaching What Really Happened, a book about challenging what text books traditionally taught about history; and The Writing Revolution.

Secondary schools would also get a curriculum audit from TNTP and partner with the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene Tribes for added lessons.

You can see the full presentation at the link in the school board agenda.

The school board will not take any action on these steps at Wednesday’s meeting. The intent of the presentation is to update the board on the progress.

Critics of schools nationwide have pointed to the teaching of critical race theory, which is not specifically taught in any K-12 district. School board candidates across the region ran on the idea of banning it from local schools.

Critical race theory, though, is not the same as culturally responsive curriculum. Critical race theory is a complex examination of the legal system that has existed in the U.S. for more than 40 years.

It’s typically taught in upper-division graduate school and law school classes.

READ: Listening sessions give families opportunity to discuss racial equity in Spokane schools