As the summer season fraught with racial tension and protests in the wake of the police death of George Floyd concludes, students returning to school this fall will likely receive an entirely different history education than before.
According to a Monday report by The Daily Mail, educators are demanding new teaching materials and the development of new curriculum with increased focus on Black history to provide a better understanding of the experience of Black students’ ancestors.
The demand for change follows a June survey by the EdWeek Research Center, which found that 81 percent of teachers who responded support the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We can’t control what happens with the police, but we can control what happens in our school systems,” said Michael McFarland, head of the National Alliance of Black School Educators and a superintendent of the Crowley Independent School District in Texas.
John Marshall, chief diversity officer for Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools, told the Mail he keeps a picture of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her sleep during a “no-knock” raid, on his desk.
“We’re not just talking about a couple of lesson changes,” Marshall said of the coming new curriculum. “We’re getting to the quintessential work of trying to put race, equity, and inclusion inside of our curriculum.”
The Mail reports:
In the Jefferson County schools, for instance, teachers discussing the Space Race of the 1960s plan now to focus on the black women mathematicians whose computations underpin modern rocket science.
In Houston, teachers at YES Prep public charter schools will dissect James Baldwin’s iconic book of essays ‘The Fire Next Time’ less as a history of racial struggle and more as a guide for black students to overcome injustice.
School boards and other officials in the roughly 98,000 public school districts in America hold nearly all of the power to choose curriculum for students, the Mail explains.
The National School Boards Association, which provides guidance and recommendations to school districts, revealed that requests for additional materials on black history nearly doubled over the summer.
Anna Maria Chavez, the organization’s executive director, told the outlet, “They’re making sure teachers are teaching the right history in their classrooms.”
Earlier this month, we reported that an Illinois lawmaker called for schools to “abolish” history curriculum that promoted “white privilege” by minimizing or ignoring Black history.
“When it comes to teaching history in Illinois, we need to end the miseducation of Illinoisans,” said State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford at an Evanston press conference.
“I’m calling on the Illinois State Board of Education and local school districts to take immediate action by removing current history books and curriculum practices that unfairly communicate our history,” Ford declared. “Until a suitable alternative is developed, we should instead devote greater attention toward civics and ensuring students understand our democratic processes and how they can be involved. I’m also alarmed that people continue to display symbols of hate, such as the recent display of the Confederate flag in Evanston.”
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