Anti-Racist Curriculum and Digital Platforms: Evidence from Black Lives Matter

43 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2021 Last revised: 1 Jul 2021

See all articles by Saharsh Agarwal

Saharsh Agarwal

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Ananya Sen

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Date Written: April 22, 2021

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the impact of racially charged events on classroom curriculum in US public schools. We use requests made by teachers on DonorsChoose.org, the largest crowdfunding platform for public school teachers, as a measure of demand for anti-racism curriculum in the classroom. We use the precise timing of high-profile police brutality and related events in the US (2010-2020) to identify their effect on anti-racism requests relative to a control group. We find a significant increase in anti-racism book requests following the killing of George Floyd in 2020, and a null effect for all other events in the decade. In just a few months following George Floyd's death $3.4 million worth of books featuring Black authors and/or Black protagonists were successfully funded, reaching over half a million students. The effect is strongest for teachers whose students are younger than 10 years old. Though the Black Lives Matter movement was only focused on racism directed towards African-Americans, we also find a sharp increase in requests for books that depict Latinx, Asian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures, suggesting a general shift towards a more inclusive curriculum. Event studies suggest a causal impact of local protests such that protest incidence in a city leads to to a significantly larger impact on teacher requests. Text analysis of impact notes posted by teachers months later imply that hundreds of thousands of young students are being engaged in positive, constructive discussions about the representation and acceptance of African-Americans and other minority groups.

Suggested Citation

Agarwal, Saharsh and Sen, Ananya, Anti-Racist Curriculum and Digital Platforms: Evidence from Black Lives Matter (April 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3832015 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3832015

Saharsh Agarwal

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
+14127088563 (Phone)

Ananya Sen (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

4800 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA Pittsburgh 15213-3890
United States

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