The Pulitzer Center’s 1619 Project Education Network consists of cohorts of educators from across the country who collaborate with award-winning journalists, historians, and our Pulitzer Center education team to create, teach, and share curricular resources that allow students to engage authentically and critically with The 1619 Project.
Since the beginning of the Pulitzer Center education programs, we’ve understood that empowered teachers help to empower students. Our 1619 Education Network and other teacher fellowship programs allow us to do this teacher development work over an extended period of time in a way that empowers educators through networking, learning experiences, and grants. We’ve worked with teachers across the nation in all school environments and communities.
Here’s some of what we’ve learned from our teacher partners and how it informed our decision to sign on as a sponsor for the Zinn Education Project’s Teach Truth Day of Action:
- There is a strong need for partnership and community among educators right now. Teachers see the work of coalition-building both with educators in their local communities and those across the nation as necessary steps to combat burnout, better inform themselves, and advocate for what they believe in. Teach Truth Day of Action allows the opportunity for educators committed to teaching an honest, historically accurate, culturally responsive curriculum to know that they are not alone, to connect with other educators doing the same work, and to take action together as a collective. As a team, we are excited for the connections that participation in this event will bring for us and the teachers in our Network.
- Teachers recognize they still have a lot to learn. Our 1619 Project Education Network members work together to create examples of how The 1619 Project and similar resources can be skillfully implemented in the classroom. It is work that involves an engagement with hard history and a deep examination of pedagogy, both of which can be humbling and challenging experiences. More than 80% of educators in our Network report learning new information about U.S. history, journalism and media, and pedagogical skills to use in the classroom. Many applied to the Network in order to better inform themselves about the legacies of slavery in the United States and the overlooked contributions of Black Americans. Their feedback mirrors a 2018 survey of teachers by Teaching Hard History and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The results showed that while teachers are serious about teaching slavery and African American history, 58% of them found their textbooks inadequate, and many felt ill-equipped to lead the conversation. Zinn Education Project’s Teach Truth Day of Action encourages all educators to engage as learners without embarrassment about gaps in our education. Educators who participate are moving with intention to ensure those same gaps don’t exist for their students.
- Teachers don’t always feel heard. One of the many egregious consequences of the educational policies we’ve seen in recent years is that they delegitimize the expertise educators hold for their profession. They question teachers' intentions in the classroom, skill at selecting appropriate materials for learning, and best practices for helping all students succeed. This dismissal of the skill and expertise of educators is also reflected in how much the media covers this moment in education. Teachers are rarely asked to speak as experts on what is best for their students and school. We hope that our support and the support of the other sponsors will allow Teach Truth Day of Action to be a space where the brave, creative, and passionate teachers we work with daily are heard in their advocacy. We believe more people should have the opportunity to learn about and be inspired by educators who want to teach truth and are committed to building a community to do so.
- Students want to learn the truth. Teachers in our 1619 Network program are not only writing and designing curricular resources, but they are also implementing the curriculum with students. They’ve seen first hand how students engage with resources like The 1619 Project. Our teachers report a genuine student interest and engagement in the content that lasted beyond the period of unit implementation. The student work that is shared in most unit plans in our Curricular Resource Library depicts the levels of curiosity, empathy, and creativity this instruction helped to inspire in students. Teaching truth is an effective instructional strategy, and we are excited to help model that as sponsors and partners.
I am so grateful for all the lessons teachers in our 1619 Education Network have taught me in my time managing the program. I believe we all still have more learning to do. The 1619 Project Education Network is supporting Teach Truth Day of Action because we believe in the work our teacher partners are doing as a part of the Network and beyond. We want their work to be sustained and ongoing, and resources like those provided in the Teach Truth Toolkit help to support this objective.
We have our own offerings for educators hoping to connect and engage with The 1619 Project as a part of their Day of Action. In addition to spotlighting our growing collection of free Pulitzer Center Guides for educators teaching hard histories, we will host a webinar about the challenges and opportunities that come with teaching The 1619 Project during the June 10th Day of Action. We will also be sharing and boosting posts that utilize the #TeachTruth and #Teaching1619 tags together on social media.
We hope that you will join us in the Teach Truth Day of Action. Sign up for our education newsletter to receive information about events we sponsor as part of the Day of Action and to receive resources from other teachers teaching truth every day. If your school or community is organizing an event, please let us know and share with the Zinn Education Project. Use the hashtags #TeachTruth and #Teaching1619 to find other educators in our Network and support one another’s projects.
Senior Education Program Manager | 1619 Network Manager