The Social Studies Culturally Relevant Curriculum Taskforce is an Initiative within The Division of Curriculum and Instruction that exemplifies the commitment to the District’s core values.
While the District has adopted high-quality instructional materials, feedback from educators and internal analysis of curriculum materials reveal that there are opportunities to address gaps that exist through supplemental texts, lessons, and educator guidance to enhance the cultural relevancy of the District’s current curriculum.
Social Studies Culturally Relevant Curriculum Taskforce
In June of 2020, The District’s Board of Education issued a resolution, committing itself to be an anti-racist institution. This declaration included the commitment to develop and implement an Equity Strategic Framework that examines curriculum and instructional practice to center the needs of our students and the experiences of those that have been historically and institutionally oppressed.
Students thrive when they have access to challenging content and teachers who believe that they can meet high standards. When given the opportunity to do rigorous work, students consistently rise to the challenge. That is why anti-racism in our practice is inherently tied to learning and began with the adoption of high-quality instructional materials (HQIM). HQIM are fundamental to equitable instruction because they support teachers in delivering lessons aligned to college and career readiness standards and preparing students for the future they choose.
However, many standards-aligned curricula are not yet built to support anti-racist teaching. Too often, materials do not center on the experiences of people of color. This does not facilitate our commitment to offering content that affirms and reflects students’ identities and experiences (mirrors) or the chance to learn about and from diverse cultures and perspectives (windows). While the District has adopted high quality instructional materials, feedback from educators and internal analysis of curriculum materials reveal that there are opportunities to address gaps that exist through supplemental texts, lessons, and educational guidance to enhance the cultural relevancy of the District’s curriculum.
In order to ensure that the work that we do is not temporary or performative and truly realizes and operationalizes our commitments, we will:
- Anchor the research and scholarship done by people of color in the areas of anti-racist and culturally responsive curriculum and pedagogy.
- Include the diverse identities, cultures, histories, experiences of DPSCD teachers, students, and community members in our curriculum and training.
- Center and amplify the "own voice" stories of excellence, scholarship, and achievement, as well as resistance, resilience and joy of those who have been historically and systemically marginalized and oppressed.
- Reflect the learning goals and aspirations expressed through collaboration and thought partnership with DPSCD students, teachers, district staff, and Detroit community members.
- Ensure sustainability of and commitment to this effort by providing the required professional learning, support, and resources to district leaders, building administrators, and instructional staff.
Although many adjustments to the curriculum are already underway to reflect our anti-racist resolution, we all know that more adjustments need to be made. The District has formed a Taskforce to assess bias in curricular materials, beginning with the Office of Social Studies. This taskforce will provide input on Invisibility, Stereotyping, Imbalance and Selectivity, Historical Whitewashing, Fragmentation and Isolation, Linguistic Bias, and Cosmetic Bias in our materials and make recommendations for improvements.
The work of the taskforce—combined with the voices of staff, students, families, and community members through the recently completed Social Studies Culturally Relevant Curriculum Survey—is critical to the analysis process.