‘Reading Horizons’ protesters disrupt school board meeting


Anna Kleven

Protesters made their way behind school board members’ chairs.

Eva Shellabarger, Editor

School board members voted to adjourn their meeting on September 29th after protesters disrupted it with chants and a reading of demands. The protesters assembled at the meeting to challenge the Reading Horizons literacy curriculum that the district had bought with a contract for $1.2 million.

The elementary books featured offensive images and stereotypes of Black and Native American children. One character is a Black girl named ‘Lazy Lucy’. Another story described Kenyans as “able to run very fast.” Many parents, educators, and community members were outraged that a curriculum with such strong generalizations was approved to be used in Minneapolis Public Schools.

The protesters intervened at the beginning of school board meeting. Chaun Webster, owner of Ancestry Books in North Minneapolis, described the protest as a “disruptive show”. The protesters spoke in a gameshow style. They read off questions about Reading Horizons, like “What is the gender and race of all members of the Reading Horizons board?” and the larger crowd answered, “All white males!”.

Teachers, parents, and community members gathered outside of the school board meeting to plan the disruption.
Anna Kleven
Teachers, parents, and community members gathered outside of the school board meeting to plan the disruption.

The two immediate demands the protesters read off were for the district to end all relationships with Reading Horizons, and to require a public apology from Michael Goar, the interim superintendent for Minneapolis Public Schools.


Organizers handed out fliers explaining their cause.

The only board members to stay during the protest were Tracine Asberry, Rebecca Gagnon and Nelson Inz. The other members left, and tried to resume the meeting twice before voting to adjourn the meeting.

During one attempt to resume the meeting, protesters made their way behind school board members’ seats, and continued to chant, “Whose schools? Our schools! Whose tax dollars? Our tax dollars!”.
The group used the school board members’ absence to sit in a circle, introduce themselves, and express their outrage over the curriculum. 

School board member Kim Ellison expressed that the disruption of the meeting was “unfortunate, because it took time away from discussing the tax levy,”. The board members were supposed to finalize a vote on the upcoming tax levy by the end of the September 29th. 

Ellison said that the general opinion the school board has of Reading Horizons is that it is “horrific and awful”.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for October 13th, and a discussion of Reading Horizons is on the agenda.