No single ready-made curriculum can do all of that, she said. Wit & Wisdom has provided a crucial “backbone” of curriculum materials that build knowledge in a thoughtful sequence—and ideally teachers help students connect their own lives to whatever they’re studying. But the district has also supplemented Wit & Wisdom with a social studies curriculum it created called “BMore Me,” which highlights the role of Black and brown communities in Baltimore’s history.
One of the most gratifying results of the new curriculum, Santelises said, is hearing from parents who are impressed by what their children are learning: “Parents love knowing their children know something they don’t know. Particularly in communities that have been underserved by the institution of school, that ability to see that your child is moving further than you is a very human need.”
Under the previous curriculum, students often never even learned to sound out words, because teachers hadn’t been trained in the systematic phonics instruction that many kids need. Some teachers still resist phonics, but Santelises says it’s important to let them know that historically, some Blacks in the South were prevented from learning phonics as a way of ensuring their continued oppression.