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Please, No More Delays

Over the last school year we have been a part of the Literacy Steering Committee that was to advise the district and the school board on the direction for selecting and implementing a new ELA curriculum after MPS district audit found Benchmark deficient across multiple areas.


Early on the committee decided not to go through the Request for Purchase (RFP) process where curriculum vendors respond to a district request for a proposal and chose to select a curriculum that was approved at the state level alongside the University of MN/CAREI as part of the Read Act.


The committee meet for two days in late May to discuss the remaining vendors and selected UFLI as the foundational K-2 curriculum for MPS to be piloted at 15 schools who lost funding for Groves. UFLI has become a popular tool for teachers and districts across the county who are seeing great results in their student bodies. It is a low-cost curriculum developed by the University of Florida that is easy for teachers to use and implement. In discussions with district staff, we were told that principals across the district want to go straight to implementation for next year. This is a significant win for our students, teachers and schools. MPS currently has more than a half dozen different foundational tools being used across the district, and even within schools, it has been communicated that each teacher was doing something different.


For the core ELA curriculum from MDE/CAREI two were approved, EL Education and Wit and Wisdom.  Both curriculums have been identified as high-quality curriculum by Knowledge Matters.


Within the curriculums teachers have found some texts that need to be replaced or updated based on being more culturally responsive for our students. Based on this and concerns from teachers about the amount on their plate next year, the teachers on the committee voted to delay the pilot for another year and in a second vote, voted to pursue an RFP for a core ELA curriculum. Based on this vote, the soonest MPS would have a new core ELA curriculum would be in school year 2026-27, three years from now.


MPS will be discussing the K5 curriculum adoption at the upcoming board meeting. As parents and community members who voted against the delay, we are asking the Board and the district to commit to budgeting within the 2024-25 school year and implementing a new core ELA curriculum in the 2025-2026 school year. We are supporting the district in their continued efforts to find a core ELA curriculum which could still include curriculum on the MDE list, but are asking the district to combine the 2 year RFP/pilot process into one year.


MPS has been advised for over two decades through independent audits of the need to improve reading instruction and curriculum practices. We have seen the damage done to our children by MPS continually asking them to wait.


We had the opportunity last week to speak with the Director of Academics in the Portland school district who just implemented Wit and Wisdom after selecting it over EL over concerns that EL was too time consuming and difficult to implement in the classroom. Teachers have shared an immediate improvement in student writing and discourse as students are excited to have a much broader based curriculum built around the need to expose students to our world, provide them with opportunities to discuss, read and write about subjects that are new to them.


Portland has been partnering with Wit and Wisdom to improve the curriculum and make it better for their students. And when asked if in our boat and had to choose between an RFP or piloting Wit and Wisdom she said she would go straight to Wit and Wisdom as the perfect curriculum doesn’t exist.


We have advocated and organized for significant, systemic changes to & investments in literacy instruction at the state & district level, for many years. Each of those years we’ve watched as “perfect” has been an enemy of good, while outcomes for immigrant, native, Black & disabled students have worsened.


There are no panacea or perfect options - but there are materials, trainings & practices demonstrated to better support literacy skills development, especially for the district’s most under-served & vulnerable students.


We are struck by the lack of sense of urgency of the repeated delays to real action - hearing again, after a year of meetings & discussion, that district wide, system wide decisions will once again be delayed & deferred. We know who the status quo serves & we know who it leaves behind - academic outcomes disparities in MPS are some of the nation’s worst. And we don’t hear a plan to address that emergency in sustained ways, or even an acknowledgment of its existence & persistence. 


Anti-racist values are rendered performative when the real, hard, necessary work of better serving MPS students is prevented via administrative delay after administrative delay. Year after year. That’s what you’re voting on today: kicking the can down the road one more year.


We urge you to demand more. 

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New to the conversation. What is the difference between foundational and core curriculum? And do I read that 15 schools are doing UFLI or is it going district wise for K-2?

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Foundational skills is learning to read and core would be more of reading to learn.


The initial recommendation was UFLI would be piloted at the 15 schools that lost Groves funding but our understanding is all schools will move straight to implementation next year as principals didn’t want to wait.


This should be clarified at the board meeting.

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