Starting in 2021, African American and Latino studies could be a part of every school district’s high school curriculum across Connecticut. On Wednesday, the state’s House passed a bill, with 122 in support and 24 against. Many politicians explained why the classes were so necessary.
“American history seemed to be a long catalog of kings, presidents, generals, a few industrialists and a couple of investors, that was about it,” said Rep. Edwin Vargas, a former teacher in Hartford. “Everybody else seemed to get short shrift in American history. Unfortunately, religious, racial, and ethic groups, women, minorities, labor, unions – all these movements in America – they were lucky if they got one or two lines in one of our history books, a quick mention, almost as if they were insignificant.”
The bill would make it so that the State Education Resource Center can develop the class and calls on the State Board of Education to approve it by January 1, 2021. While the class will be an elective – meaning students will not be forced to take it – it would be required for school districts to offer these classes.
Despite the support, there are still some who wonder why it’s only these two groups that are getting separate classes. But as Rep. Pat Wilson Pheanious said, it’s “needs to be mandated because it has not happened.”
“Some of us are consistently left out of history,” Wilson Pheanious said. “There is an appalling lack of knowledge about the value and the contributions of people of color… All children have a right to this knowledge. All children need to understand it so they can understand who they are as Americans.”
The bill will next go to the Senate.