A reading curriculum continues to spark outrage for a group of parents, teachers and community members in Minneapolis Public Schools.
A group by the name of the Social Justice Education Movement organized a protest at Tuesday's board meeting, and they plan to disrupt the October school meeting as well.
The group of 20 or so protesters are demanding that Minneapolis Public Schools cancel its $1.2 million contract with Reading Horizons, a Utah-based company that provided books as part of a curriculum that some teachers found laden with cultural and racial stereotypes. Their protest forced an abrupt end to Tuesday’s school board meeting, which focused on a levy proposal.
Kate Towle, who was at Tuesday's meeting with the group, says the Social Justice Education Movement is growing and will continue to demand that the district listen to their concerns. The group is made up of district parents, students, teachers and community members.
Videos posted on social media show protesters standing behind the chairs of board members, holding signs and chanting “Whose school? Our school,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Reading Horizons has got to go.” Board members were forced to yell into their microphones to approve the levy proposal before adjourning early.
A Committee of the Whole meeting set to begin immediately after was canceled.
At one point, the group created a circle discussion, and Towle said that was a missed opportunity for Interim Superintendent Michael Goar to "to be like the Pope and jump in and get into the circle, and say I want to do something about this too."
Instead, the group was not acknowledged, Towle said.
"They put up signs in four languages that said public comments would not be allowed," Towle said. "When we came in the room, we were purposely disruptive, and they pretty much continued on with their meeting and pretended like we were invisible."
Dirk Tedmon, the district's spokesman, said the district's position on the contract has not changed. The board earlier this month demanded a public apology from the company and a partial reimbursement.
"The board passed a very strong resolution, and we've been working on all aspects of that and are negotiating with the company," Tedmon said.
District officials have said the books were never put in front of children and were sent back to the company. Goar and other district officials have also said despite not reviewing the book, the rest of the curriculum was fully vetted and are confident it will help boost reading proficiency for its youngest students.
Reading Horizons has since vowed to retool the books and diversify the team that designs the curriculum.
The group is already planning to attend an Oct. 13 school board meeting where Reading Horizons officials are expected to attend.
"Let's make the [October] board meeting huge," the group posted on its Facebook page. "These are our schools, lets [sic] start acting like it."