The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) runs a program to help art teachers create anti-racist curriculum.
“In this three-day long summer 2023 institute, participants will have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of culturally responsive and ant-racist curriculum development in and through the arts as it relates to Ethnic Studies,” MDE explains of an upcoming course that is an optional aspect of a program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and led by MDE’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Center.
“Participants will explore the intersection of the arts and ethnic studies and unpack the connection between identity, social activism and the arts,” the course overview states. “Participants will also investigate how the arts can empower students to reclaim, envision and create, centering their voices as counter-narratives against historical and contemporary injustices.”
The course is called “Reimagining Arts and Ethnic Studies Summer Institute: Identity, Power, and Resistance in Education” and is taking place Aug. 1-3.
An informational page about the course explains that teachers who participate will “have the opportunity to develop and pilot innovative and culturally responsive lessons or units of study during the following school year (2023-24).”
The course is offered through MDE’s Culturally Responsive Arts Education program, which is “designed to advance equity and improve quality in arts education in Minnesota classrooms, schools and districts through the development and implementation of culturally responsive and anti-racist arts curriculum, instruction, policies, and practices.”
“From June 2023 through September 2026, the Professional Learning + Action Cohort, made up of teachers, administrators, district leaders and other partners, will engage in ongoing professional learning culminating in the development and implementation of local Pilot Action Initiatives at the K-12 classroom, school and/or district levels,” MDE says.
Cristine Trooien with Minnesota Parents Alliance told Alpha News that she believes the resources promoted by MDE represent the political views of the state’s teachers union.
“There is a presumption made by educators, district leadership and the general public that the resources recommended by MDE have been properly reviewed, meet a high standard for politically unbiased content and educational excellence and represent ‘best in class’ options,” Trooien said. “The reality is that these resources are selected by an unelected staff, many of whom represent the political interests of Education Minnesota and the radical left.”
She also expressed concern that many teachers may view MDE’s resource recommendations as a requirement to fulfill the state’s continuing education qualifications.
“These recommendations are made by MDE for districts and educators to satisfy state curriculum standards and licensure requirements,” Trooien said. “The concern is that when a recommendation is communicated from MDE, it is too often viewed as a requirement and/or that MDE’s list is exhaustive of the options that satisfy curriculum and training requirements.”
Trooien said that teachers in Minnesota could find better continuing education elsewhere. “Districts and teachers who are interested in keeping political activism out of K-12 education would be wise to seek alternatives to satisfy curriculum and training requirements.”
The sign-up form for the course included places for educators to put their pronouns, and explained that MDE may offer stipends for teachers to attend, mileage reimbursements, and hotel accommodations.