Requires DOE to maintain list of textbook vendors that use inclusive material and school districts to use textbooks from those vendors
S1512 (Ruiz, Cunningham) NJEA supports the intent of this bill, but we are concerned about its implementation. We believe student materials need to reflect the rich cultural diversity of our student population. Students must be able to see themselves in the textbooks and other materials they use throughout their school career.
However, this bill could limit teachers’ autonomy to select texts; there may be subjects where it is difficult to find inclusive texts and just because a vendor has some texts that are inclusive, doesn’t mean all of a vendors’ texts are. This could be rooted in an industry that promotes Eurocentric texts.
As our nation and communities grapple with institutional racism during this moment of heightened awareness, we have to make sure we go beyond mandates that simply create ‘check box’ solutions. We need to make sure we promote materials that truly focus on diversity, not ones that focus on tokens.
The materials we use in schools need to help students become racially literate. We need to help students have the language, understanding, and awareness of diversity in the context of our racial society and institutions. We look forward to working with you to achieve this goal.
NJEA urges you to SUPPORT S 1512.