Ben graduated from a New York City Public School and can tell you himself that his text books were decades old and racist. That's why as Council Member Ben Kallos wrote an opinion editorial in the Daily News with Silicon Harlem's Clayton Banks proposing open textbooks as an immedaite way forward. New York City is spending $84 million a year on textbooks. That number is staggering, especially given that many of the textbooks are older than the teachers using them, largely Eurocentric and in some cases dictated by partisan politics.
Rooting out racial injustice must include the classroom, where textbooks too often perpetuate notions of white supremacy through a narrow focus on the achievements of white men. Expanding the narrative through open textbooks can help teach the rich diversity of shared contributions across cultures. From Arabic numerals and Katherine Johnson in math to Marie Curie and George Washington Carver in science, key figures and developments have been neglected in every subject, not only history.
We can make these learning materials more reflective of New York City’s diversity and put limited resources to better use by adopting open textbooks. As a Council Member Ben has introduced legislation to mandate open textbooks as part of giving every student who needs one a laptop. If the legislation is not passed by the time Ben becomes the next Borough President he will buy a laptop for every student who needs one on day one and make sure it comes preloaded with open textbooks that are culturally responsive.