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How The ‘Age-Appropriate’ Debate Is Altering Curriculum

Front and center are concerns about the age-appropriateness of curriculum and instruction designed to introduce painful truths about America’s origins and present-day injustices. Truths, which some parents feel are at odds with a redeeming national narrative, and which others say must be shared early if America hopes to ever achieve racial reconciliation.

Amid a racial reckoning spurred by the 2020 murder of George Floyd and a conservative backlash to subsequent anti-racist protests, elementary schools have become ground zero for much of the soul-searching.

How history is framed has also become a potent political weapon for many Republicans who use charged words such as “indoctrination” to stoke parents’ fears and inflame disagreements about which classroom discussions are appropriate and which ones cross the line. Amplifying the debate is a growing campaign to purge schoolbooks that offend conservative sensibilities, especially on topics related to race and gender.

Add an early education literacy crisis made worse by the pandemic and a national movement to introduce harder historical texts to students at a younger age and a political storm takes shape.

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