artwork from The 1619 Project

Units January 24, 2022

School Curriculum and the Government


Lesson Summary: Students draw upon personal experiences, current events, news articles, and materials that could be banned in school to respond to the compelling question: Should the government mandate curriculum? Downloads: Unit resources Links: The 1619 project broadsheet

This unit was created by educators in Great Crossing High School, as part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately four 50-minute periods.


Students will be able to...

  • Describe the concept of school curriculum 
  • Describe how laws and regulations impact school curriculum
  • Evaluate arguments surrounding curriculum materials
  • Construct an argument in response to the compelling question using evidence

Compelling Question

Should the government mandate school curriculum? 

Supporting Questions

  1. What do laws currently say about [standards] and curriculum?
  2. Why are curricular resources controversial?
  3. What is the role of student voice in curriculum?

Unit Overview

This inquiry-based unit leads students through an investigation of school curriculum and the role the government plays in curricular decisions. Ideally, this unit should be taught after students have an understanding of federalism and the three branches of government. The compelling and supporting questions engage students through relevant discussions and source work to apply their knowledge of government.

Taking Informed Action:

This unit leverages the Inquiry Design Model from the College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards, students will…

  • Understand: Embedded in the daily lessons
  • Assess: Deliberate on the impact of curriculum bans
  • Act: Write an OpEd for your local or school paper OR a letter to your state representative where you discuss your evidence-based argument about government influence on curriculum

Performance Task

Construct an Argument: Students will take civic action by crafting an argumentative letter addressed to a state or federal legislator (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) in response to the compelling question: Should the government mandate school curriculum? Students should be sure to:

  • Use specific claims and relevant evidence from historical and contemporary sources 
  • Acknowledge competing views


Please help us understand your needs better by filling out this brief survey!

Will you use this lesson plan in a class you teach?
By sharing your email address, you are opting in to receive updates from the Pulitzer Center Education team.