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Illinois officials call to abolish history classes in the state until an 'alternative' is set up to highlight underrepresented groups

  • Community leaders in Illinois called for history classes in state schools to stop until a " suitable alternative" is established to represent minority groups in the curriculum.
  • Democratic State Representative LaShawn K. Ford said "current history teachings lead to a racist society and overlook the contributions of women and minorities," according to NBC Chicago.
  • The state representative is calling for schools to discard history books "that unfairly communicate our history." 
Local officials and community leaders in Illinois called to cease history classes in state schools until new methods are developed to highlight marginalized groups.
In a Sunday news conference in Evanston, Illinois, Democratic State Representative LaShawn K. Ford said "current history teachings lead to a racist society and overlook the contributions of women and minorities," according to NBC Chicago.
"It costs us as a society in the long run forever when we don't understand our brothers and sisters that we live, work, and play with," Ford said.
Ford is sponsoring a bill that promotes the teaching of Black history — including the civil rights movement and pre-enslavement history — in every public elementary and high school. 
First submitted in February, the text of the bill proposes implementing a curriculum that will help students grasp the social, cultural, political and economic events and contributions in Black history that would "constitute an affirmation by students of their commitment to respect the dignity of all races and peoples and of forever eschew every form of discrimination in their lives and careers."
In a press release received by the outlet before Sunday's event, the state representative called for the "abolishment of history classes" and demanded that the Illinois State Board of Education "take immediate action by removing current history books and curriculum practices that unfairly communicate our history" until "appropriate alternatives are developed."
Ford said that until an inclusive alternative is established, the schools should shift their focus on teaching students civics and democratic processes.
Evanston's mayor, Steve Hagerty, didn't back the abolishment of history classes but said schools should focus on the history of minority groups.
"As Mayor, I am not comfortable speaking on education, curriculum, and whether history lessons should be suspended. This is not my area," he said in the press release. "Personally, I support House Bill 4954 because I am interested in learning more and believe the history of Black people should be taught to all children and include all groups, Women, LatinX, and Native Indians who helped to build America."
Evanston activist, Meleika Gardner, shared Ford's concerns. Gardner is a board member of WE WILL, a non-profit organization that aids community members, especially women and children, to get active in local legislation. 
"The miseducation of our children must stop," she said in the press release."It is urgent that it comes to an end as we witness our current climate become more hostile. Miseducation has fed and continues to feed systemic racism for generations. If Black History continues to be devalued and taught incorrectly, then it will call for further action," she said.
In a Facebook post, Gardner thanked Mayor Hagerty for his support for the proposed changes in the school system.
"Thank you, Mayor Steve Hagerty for supporting Bill Hb4954 and your words yesterday in regards to the true history of Black being taught to all children to help end systemic racism," she said.
Expanded Coverage Module: black-lives-matter-module

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