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Our Position: Banning Classroom Discussions on Diversity Would Further Depress Learning Outcomes

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As an organization focused on improving student outcomes and increasing educational opportunity, The Opportunity Trust opposes any attempt to discourage dialogue and discourse on race and racism in the classroom, or to legislate specific pedagogical or curricular approaches.

Children must feel a sense of belonging and connection at school to learn. Research consistently affirms that exposure to a culturally diverse, rich, and relevant curriculum helps all children develop and is particularly important for children of color. Curriculum that includes a diversity of perspectives also helps improve critical thinking skills and self-efficacy, essential skills to thrive in a 21st century workplace. A 2017 Stanford study shows that students, particularly those who are struggling, experienced dramatic improvements in attendance, grades, and course completion when curriculum and classroom discussion included diverse viewpoints and literature that affirmed children’s experience in the world.

Our schools and our children are in crisis, and educators and families are exhausted. Missouri assessments administered last spring show just 45 percent of test takers were proficient in reading, and 35 percent were proficient in math – declines of 3 and 7 percentage points since 2019. Rather than spend time on divisive issues that will have little impact on educational outcomes in our state, we encourage our legislators to focus on the most pressing issues facing our schools today by ensuring:

  1. That the unprecedented funding districts receive leads to a plan to address learning loss grounded in learning science, and has concrete measures of success for every school and every child.
  2. That every classroom has a well-prepared and supported teacher.
  3. That district leadership is held accountable for student learning growth and achievement.

The Opportunity Trust invests in educators and school systems eager to build the capacity required to make significant and measurable change.

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