Without government, who would spend $1.2 million without knowing what they were spending it on? That’s what the Minneapolis school district did when they placed an order with Reading Horizons. When the books arrived, they touched a nerve in the community. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
The books [for a new reading curriculum for kindergarten through third grade] were a tool teachers could use to reinforce reading lessons, but top administrators say they never thoroughly reviewed the content. When teachers got the books, they found an illustration of an American Indian girl titled “Nieko the Hunting Girl,” and another with a black girl called “Lazy Lucy.” The books also referenced Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America, a historical milestone no longer taught in many schools.
The book controversy erupted at a time when many in the community say the district isn’t doing enough to help students of color. Minneapolis schools also face criticism for a yawning achievement gap between white students and students of color.
It’s unclear how the refund the district seeks from Reading Horizons will help students or fix the achievement gap. Perhaps officials could improve reading scores if they led by example, reading the books they order before spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.