If I told you about my frustrations with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWPBS), you wouldn’t believe me. First, you would think I was making it up. Unfortunately, I am not making it up. This curriculum isn’t in the best interest of Black and Brown kids. As a result of my willingness to express my thoughts openly, I am open to criticism. I’m good with that. It comes with the territory and upholds the assertion that no one that educates students should be beyond reproach.
Further, I always thought of this program as a budget buster. Here it is, you have an expensive reading and writing program, in tandem with an expensive Professional development component. Teachers want what’s best for their kids. Educators believe in the TC brand, which makes it’s easy to sell this program. The people that developed the program are super smart and know their audience. Their audience is folks that are desperate for an answer to improve education for students. Sadly, this curricula is not the answer.
Not Questioning Intellect, I’m Questioning Motives
Additionally, I want to be clear; I’m not questioning the intellectual capacity of those that design or implement TCRWPBS. I’m asking about the intentionality of the programming. Simply put, this program is not for Black and Brown impoverished kids. The students mentioned above lack the background knowledge to explore and make the inferences it would take to be a successful participant in a Teachers College Reading and Writing curricula. Put another way, at best, TCRWPBS is an anticipatory set and should be used to supplement other types of meaningful curriculum that teaches students the foundations of reading.
Bad for Poor Kids
Moreover, for schools like my own that have invested thousands of dollars in the curriculum and its training modules, it’s little to no solace that Lucy Caulkins has decided to be transparent about the curriculum she’s made millions off. Sadly, there are folks at TC and other academics that won’t say a word about this. As a result, it’s dangerous to call out TC and other curriculum developers. I’m okay with the backlash that may come from my criticism of this program. I’m actually thinking about how many lives have been damaged, how many students have been wrongly diagnosed, and how many kids have been left behind due to this program’s blind brand loyalty.
A Push for Anti-Racist Curricula
If we are making a push to discuss anti-racist teaching, now is the perfect time to discuss the racist materials pumped into students’ minds. For instance, students need to see themselves in the materials they read—Any other approach to reading furthers the divide between affluent and poverty-stricken students. You can’t expect a socio-economically disadvantaged student to have background knowledge of something they have never understood. I was and remain openly defiant to the Teacher College Reading and Writing Project. Finally, I think the material is anti-Bb (Black and Brown), anti-rural poor White, and negates how poverty plays a role in deficit teaching and learning.