AKRON, Ohio — Akron Public Schools(APS) Board of Education members unanimously approved new English and language arts curriculum materials that celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion during Monday night's meeting.
"While bills being proposed in the state legislature are seeking to limit teaching of topics such as racial equity and diversity, APS is moving ahead with its plan, dismissing the idea that doing so would -- as House Bill 616 states -- promote 'divisive or inherently racist concepts,'" Akron Public Schools stated in a release following Monday's vote.
For kindergarten through second grade, the new 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.
In addition to hard copies of the reading materials, students will also get digital access. 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.”
APS says a team of educators reviewed the new curriculum, inspecting instructional materials from 10 publishers before recommending the content of the textbooks that adhere to the state’s learning standards and guidelines from the district.
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,” added Dang-Nguyen.