Equity, inclusion, and social justice are some of the most controversial topics dividing Americans on what a well-rounded education should look like. As activists push agendas that would require more of this in class lesson materials and textbooks, others fear it is divisive concepts taking away from the root element of an academic curriculum. The battle has landed a popular textbook publisher in the middle of the controversy, as textbook bans and edits are causing some authors to walk out on their jobs.
Two prominent textbook authors have resigned from their roles in writing for the well-known school textbook publishing company, Heinemann. The authors, and even others, have severed ties with the publisher because they feel that the company didn’t do its part in pushing back against states that are limiting textbook lessons and enacting textbook bans in the name of critical race theory. Above all, these authors fear it is a clear divide from the company’s vision statement to fight for justice and inclusivity.
According to a report from Chalkboard Review, Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle were longtime publishers for Heinemann before their recent resignation. Their decision to leave came at a time when textbook bans are being reported all across red states. There are now upwards of 16 states that have banned critical race theory teachings in schools, which had led states like Florida to reject a plethora of textbooks. Ultimately, they felt the company let them down by refusing to stand up against the pushback from conservatives looking to restrict material that was presented in the textbooks.
It all appears to have begun when Heinemann enacted new editing measures following controversy on a 2nd-grade curriculum of textbooks designed by the famous education author Lucy Calkins. According to a report from the New York Times, states that already bar critical race theory and other divisive concepts in the classroom were enacting textbook bans for the material. Within the publication, parts of the curriculum suggested that teachers not create boys’ and girls’ groups, encouraged teachers to be mindful of students’ racial backgrounds, and contained the phrase BIPOC, which was a flagged acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
Fearing that this would lead to more textbook bans, Heinemann was set to pull the curriculum altogether from being published. Coming to an agreement, Calkins instead enacted edits to the instructional material that was contested by some states. In turn, the prominent writers retaliated against the company’s decision, asserting that the publisher failed to comply with social justice initiatives they say they stand behind.
Gallagher and Kittle weren’t the only authors to cut ties with Heinemann amid the controversy of textbook bans and edits. Sonja Cherry-Paul and Tricia Ebarvia, who are co-founders of the Institute of Racial Equity in Literacy also cut ties with the publisher citing “irreconcilable differences” in regards to equity, inclusion, and racial justice endeavors. These individuals have made it loud and clear where they stand on the notion of these contentious topics, and unfortunately, it likely comes as no surprise to many given the strongly divided views on the matter and how they are splitting educators on how curriculums should be presented to schoolchildren.