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English Language Arts

The Standards Remain The Same

The State of New Jersey hasn't touched the English Language Arts standards, but that doesn't mean there isn't a tremendous amount of work to do in English language arts courses. 

You can start by answering a few simple questions:

1. How diverse is the list of authors whose texts you assign?

2. How diverse are the characters represented in those texts?

3. What role to BIPOC/Disabled/LGBTQ+ characters play in those texts?

4. What kinds of questions are you asking about those texts?

5. If you have a diverse book list, do you have texts from BIPOC/Disabled/LGBTQ+ authors that are something besides tragedies?

How you answer these questions and how you go about diversifying your book list will inevitably involve other stakeholders in your school community. You may teach in a school where the curriculum is strictly controlled by a Board of Education that is averse to diversifying the syllabi.


If that's the case, you may find that there's room in independent reading choices. When I was teaching World Cultures a dozen years ago, I compiled a list of books​ from which the kids could choose an 'outside read.'  (Mind you, this list is 12 years old. I'm sure I could add a bunch of newer books.) At Back-to-School night, I told the parents about the upcoming 'outside read' assignment, I let them know about the Amazon wish list and I asked them to help their children pick their books. With a wide range of texts and full parental involvement, I never heard a peep of complaint. 

That being said, I have taught in districts where teachers were not allowed to choose materials without Board approval, so I understand how real this challenge may be for you. You may find it helpful to enlist your town's librarians. You may be able to share with them some of the titles you'd like the kids to review, and they could find a way to display them. That might work.

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