For curriculum quality, cultural representation matters

By Tanji Reed Marshall
December 2021
Curriculum is a critical force through which students receive the tacit message of their value in society. They learn which groups of people are valued and whose stories are worth learning. For too long, some students’ and communities’ stories have been deemed unworthy. While some progress has been made, the curriculum students are forced to consume continues to evidence the sentiments of Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Week (now Black History Month) and a distinguished educator whose theories shaped many scholars of color who remain absent from the canon of educational research and practice. In 1933, Woodson wrote: “If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. When you determine what a man shall think

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Curriculum evaluation tools

Assessing Bias in Standards and Curricular Matter (Great Lakes Equity Center)

Culturally Responsive English Language Arts Curriculum Scorecard (New York University)

Guidelines for Improving English Language Arts Materials for English Learners (English Learners Success Forum)

Improving Representation and Diversity in Open Education Materials (OpenStax, 2020)

The Knowledge Map (Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy)

New York State Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education Framework (New York State Education Department & The New York University Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools)

Social Justice Standards – The Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework (Teaching Tolerance/Southern Poverty Law Center, 2018)


Adichie, C. (2013). The danger of a single story. Facing History & Ourselves.

Bishop, R. (1990). Windows and mirrors: Children’s books and parallel cultures. California State University, San Bernadino Reading Conference.

Dahlen, S.P. (2016, September 14). Picture this: Reflecting diversity in children’s book publishing.

Dahlen, S.P. (2019, June 19). Picture this: Diversity in children’s books 2018 infographic.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491.

TNTP. (2018). The opportunity myth.

TNTP. (2021.) Accelerate, don’t remediate: New evidence from elementary math classrooms.

Woodson, C.G. (1933). The mis-education of the negro. Winston-Derek Publishers.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Tanji-reed-marshall-127x159-1
Director of P-12 Practice at The Education Trust | + posts

Tanji Reed Marshall ( is director of p-12 practice at The Education Trust and a guest editor for this issue of The Learning Professional.

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