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Black woman choosing a book at a library

Freedom to Learn

Protecting the right to an honest and culturally inclusive education.
All children deserve well-trained and supported educators and curriculum to help them reckon with our past and shape our future. Together, we can make that happen.

How to use this toolkit

  • Read about the importance of honesty in education, take action, and get involved with the movement
  • Learn how to talk about this issue effectively and respectfully, particularly with those who think differently
  • Explore resources to help you learn more about addressing hard truths about our country's past

Support Honest & Accurate Education


No matter our color, background, or ZIP code, we want our kids to have an education that imparts honesty about who we are, integrity in how we treat others, and courage to do what’s right. We also want educators to feel supported when teaching these important lessons.

Together, parents, educators, and students can demand that our schools have the resources to meet every child’s needs with well-trained and supported teachers, and a curriculum that helps them reckon with and shape our future. Find resources and actions below to help protect our students freedom to learn.

View the Freedom to Learn Model School Board Resolution Template


How we speak about issues is of critical importance in activism. Use these narratives for creative and social media content, visuals, public messages, calls to action, spokesperson materials, and more.

3 Key Narratives

The Freedom to Learn

Every student, of every race and in every place, deserves the freedom to learn from a quality educator in a safe and just public school. Great public schools are places where students feel safe, have a sense of belonging, and can receive an education that prepares them for the real world. Where parents and educators work together so each student has the support and opportunity they deserve to thrive and pursue their dreams.

Prioritizing Students over Politics

A handful of politicians are stoking social and racial division, putting some students into boxes, banning books from shelves, and censoring our history. They care more about their political careers and agendas than our students. They are driving great educators out of the profession and taking funding away from public schools for vouchers. 

Politicians Aren't Curriculum Experts

But they can help America’s students by ensuring all children attend well-resourced schools with an accurate and inclusive 21st Century curriculum that prepares them for the future.

Engaging with your Community

Our neighborhood public schools are meant to inspire imagination, cultivate critical thinking, and ensure our children can live fulfilling lives. By coming together, we can more deeply engage our school board and school community to ensure opportunity for all. 

Becky Pringle
These dangerous attempts to stoke fears and rewrite history not only diminish the injustices experienced by generations of Americans, they prevent educators from challenging our students to achieve a more equitable future.
Quote by: Becky Pringle, NEA President

Say This, Not That

Say This
Use active language to make it clear that certain people created the problem. Describe the reasons bad actors attempt to distract, fuel fear and divide us across race, gender, and origin.
Instead of
Resorting to partisan finger pointing—use the more general "some politicians" or "some elected officials."
Say This
Provide specific, tangible actions people can take, such as attending school board meetings, voting in elections, and contacting officials.
Instead of
Using war or battle metaphors and terminology (ex. “fight”).
Say This
Seize the moral high ground and engage on our terms. With attention on education, let’s talk about the teaching and curricula we support and connect to desired outcomes and a call to action.
Instead of
Using the phrase “critical race theory.” This is an academic term, unfamiliar to most audiences, and the right has co-opted it as an all-purpose dog whistle.
Say This
Ascribe motivations to the opposition. Talk about why they’re attacking curricula and educators.
Instead of
Unwittingly repeating the opposition's talking points in order to dispel their claims (e.g., “we are not teaching grade-schoolers about XYZ”).

What the Research Says

An established body of research affirms what educators have long known: Culturally responsive and racially inclusive education—including the study of the social, political, economic, and historical perspectives of our nation’s diverse racial and ethnic groups—benefits students. Learn how championing honesty in education creates a learning environment where students are more academically engaged, develop a stronger sense of personal empowerment, perform better academically, and graduate at higher rates.
Culturally Responsive and Racially Inclusive Curriculum

Culturally responsive and racially inclusive education imparts students with a sense of self and of the world that leads them to be informed, critical, and socially responsible citizens.  

Learn More >

Ethnic Studies

Interdisciplinary ethnic studies help foster cross-cultural understanding among both students of color and white students, and helps student value their own cultural identity while appreciating the differences around them.  

Learn More >

Hear expert guidance

NEA’s General Counsel Alice O’Brien on what educators need to know to protect honesty in education and themselves.

Support Students’ Freedom to Read

Support Students’ Freedom to Read

When students are given a choice in what they read, as well as support and time to read, they thrive.
Tom Klaameyer smiling in a red shirt in front of foliage

The Importance of Honesty in Education

NEA-Alaska President Tom Klaameyer recorded a speech for the Alaska Coalition of BIPOC Educators (ACBE) ‘Teach Truth Rally’ on June 11th, 2022.
Freedom to Read Poster

Freedom to Read Artwork

Find posters, bookmarks, and more to show your support for banned books and freedom from censorship in the classroom.
Marley Dias

A Future that Includes All of Us

Marley Dias—activist, author, and NEA’s Read Across America Ambassador—speaks about why we need to ensure there are more books that help kids see themselves as protagonists in their own real-life stories.
Sarah Mulhern Gross

How We Defend Our Freedom to Learn

Despite a push by certain lawmakers to prevent educators from teaching about systemic racism and sexism, these educators are committed to teach the truth and advocate for honesty in education. Find inspiration in their efforts.

Achieve with NEA-Alaska

Professional development workshops, leadership trainings, mentorship, and network — NEA-Alaska offers everything you need to succeed in your classroom and career.
An education support professional sitting in a classroom in front of a black laptop looks up and to the right of the camera with a smile.

Build your career and find opportunities to lead.

Whether you're focused on your classroom, community, or capitol, we have tools to help you transform teaching and learning.

Reach. Teach. Inspire.

NEA-Alaska advocates for an excellent public education for each child in Alaska and advances the interests of public school employees.