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Public school teachers across the country are planning to add in more black history following a summer of protests and violence in the wake of the George Floyd incident.
As students prepare to return to classes, virtually and in-person, educators are increasingly demanding new teaching materials and the development of new curriculum aimed at providing black students with a better understanding of their ancestors’ American experiences, the Daily Mail reported Monday.
The new demands come following a June survey by the EdWeek Research Center which claimed 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,” Michael McFarland, head of the National Alliance of Black School Educators and a superintendent of the Crowley Independent School District in Texas, said.
The Daily Mail notes that interviews with education officials, teachers, publishers, and others, students returning from summer break will be inundated with additional materials on black history and experiences.
John Marshall, chief diversity officer for Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools, said he keeps a picture of Breonna Taylor on his desk. The young EMT, a former student at the district, was shot and killed by police officers earlier this year during a no-knock raid after her boyfriend shot and wounded a police officer he believed was an intruder.
No charges have been filed against the police officers, and the local district attorney dropped previous criminal charges against Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
Marshall told the Daily Mail he keeps Taylor’s picture in his office at the headquarters of the state’s largest school district as a reminder of why he believes it is necessary to add black history curriculum that puts African-Americans in a more honorable light.
“We’re not just talking about a couple of lesson changes,” Marshall said of the new curriculum that is coming. “We’re getting to the quintessential work of trying to put race, equity, and inclusion inside of our curriculum.”
Some materials that are currently available will still be utilized but will be taught from a new perspective.
The Daily Mail notes:
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.
The new materials come after educators spent most of the summer updating educational curriculum because publishers normally only update textbooks on a given schedule.
However, there are likely to be variations regarding what students are taught about American history from district to district.
School boards and other officials in the roughly 98,000 public school districts around the country have nearly all of the power to decide what materials students are presented with.
That said, the National School Boards Association, which provides guidance and recommendations to local school districts, said requests for additional materials on black history nearly doubled this summer, the Daily Mail reported.
“They’re making sure teachers are teaching the right history in their classrooms,” Anna Maria Chavez, the organization’s executive director, told the outlet.
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