Some public schools are considering revamping their history curriculum after a study from the EdWeek Research Center found that more than 80% of teachers support the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Daily Mail reports that educators are looking to institute a new history curriculum with a greater focus on “black history and experiences” and which recasts the story of the United States to better showcase progressive movements against oppression.
EdWeek’s survey, taken just after George Floyd’s death while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, and just as the national anti-police brutality and anti-racism movement was ramping up, “found that 81 percent of US teachers support Black Lives Matter” according to The Daily Mail.
The sea change in how Americans view racial justice is, the outlet found, bleeding into decisions about curriculum. Several school districts around the country are considering major changes to their history education and others are looking to supplement history curriculum with outside resources that better showcase the decades-long civil rights battle.
“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 the superintendent of a school district in Texas, told the outlet.
“We’re not just talking about a couple of lesson changes,” another curriculum activist noted. “We’re getting to the quintessential work of trying to put race, equity, and inclusion inside of our curriculum.”
Even the National School Boards Association is getting in on the act, providing schools with instructions on how to alter curriculum to handle social justice needs.
“They’re making sure teachers are teaching the right history in their classrooms,” the organization’s executive director told the Daily Mail.
The call to change how history is taught in schools is not new, but as students return to school — virtually or otherwise — curriculum decisions have moved to the forefront, buoyed by a series of prominent stories involving lawmakers looking to make their own changes to how students are taught about racial justice.
In early August, CBS Chicago reported that one Illinois lawmaker was proposing a radical change to history curriculum in that state: eliminating most traditional history education altogether.
“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,” Democratic state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford said in a press conference. “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.”
School districts in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., are reportedly considering incorporating elements of the “1619 Project” into their curriculums, according to Reason Magazine, supplementing traditional materials with The New York Times essay series which claims, controversially, “that the institution of slavery was so embedded in the country’s DNA that the country’s true founding could be said to have occurred in 1619, rather than in 1776.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a bill in Congress earlier this year to prohibit schools from teaching the 1619 project.