The Cherry Hill School District is using Black History Month to make sure that teaching Black history is a year-round activity. The New Jersey school district has voted unanimously to require students take Black history courses before graduation. This decision is the first of its kind within the state and will impact more than 10,000 students in the state of New Jersey.
“This is about our district taking a stand,” Corrien Elmore-Stratton of the Cherry Hill Board of Education told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I could never live in this community and not be a Black woman.”
This move was entirely pushed by educators. Students within the district were in support of the change as well.
“There's definitely a lack of education of African American history throughout our school system,” Machayla Randall, a senior at Cherry High School East, told ABC News.
“In our history courses, the most you learn about African American history is during the month of February, which is Black History Month, and it's limited to the civil rights movement and that's pretty much it, unfortunately.”
The Cherry Hill School District is one of many around the country that is looking to make changes following a summer of social unrest. Students in nearby Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have been required to take African-American history courses prior to graduation, At the state level, Connecticut has moved to require students take Black history courses prior to graduation.
“Identities matter, especially when 27% of our students identify as Hispanic or Latino and 13% identify as Black or African American,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona explained.
“This curriculum acknowledges that by connecting the story of people of color in the U.S. to the larger story of American history. The fact is that more inclusive, culturally relevant content in classrooms leads to greater student engagement and better outcomes for all."
Together, these changes will hopefully increase student's knowledge of Black history within the United States and beyond.
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