AKRON, Ohio — Board members for Akron Public Schools will vote at Monday night’s meeting on new English and reading textbooks that celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion.
The new curriculum comes as the state legislature considers three bills that could limit the role of K through 12 schools in teaching controversial topics.
For kindergarten through second grade, the proposed material is called Wonders 2023, from McGraw Hill. For third through 12th grade, they’ve chosen Houghton Mifflin Harcourt text called, Into Reading and Into Literature. The cost for the new curriculums is just over $5.5 million dollars.
Akron educators follow a seven-year cycle for new materials to match state standards. The district says it's confident these proposed selections are a good fit for its diverse population.
“We want our kids to be able to see literature that they can see themselves in,” said Toan Dang-Nguyen, Ph.D., an English language arts learning specialist with APS. “We want to make sure…the texts are rich, rigorous, but also diverse. It's important for our students.”
If approved as expected, students will get digital copies of the textbooks for next school year, which offer new interactivity. Teachers will train on the materials over the summer. “Each of our students have their own device. We wanted to make sure our kids have that online learning platform…The technology is very interactive. Our kids learn differently from you and I,” said Dang-Nguyen.
“We started the review back in October. Our teachers did this voluntarily, from all grade levels. They really dived deep into every [option]. Our teachers scored it against the rubric,” she said. “I’m not worried about what legislation is doing at this moment in time. We’re excited about this new adoption for our kids and teachers. The instructional delivery, the advance in technology, that’s all I’m excited about right now.”
Hardcopy samples are available to review at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 10 N. Main St. in Akron ahead of Monday night's meeting. It’s set for 5:30 p.m.