Phila. school mandate: African history

Riprorin

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Apr 25, 2000
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Phila. school mandate: African history

By Susan Snyder

Inquirer Staff Writer

In what could be a unique move nationally, the Philadelphia School District will require every high school student to take a separate course in African and African American history to graduate, beginning with this September's freshman class.

Both national and local officials said yesterday that they knew of no other district requiring such a course, particularly one focused on African history, for graduation.

The School Reform Commission voted unanimously in February to offer courses in both areas at every high school, and said it would consider making one or both courses a graduation requirement.

Yesterday, district officials confirmed that they would mandate a combined African and African American history course in the 185,000-student district, which is about two-thirds African American. The course becomes one of four required social-studies courses, just as important as American history, geography and world history.

"Given the history of this country and still given our problems of discrimination and racism, for all of our children to have a more accurate picture of history, a more complete picture of history, is important," said Commissioner Sandra Dungee Glenn, who is African American.

But the move already has raised the ire of some parents, including Miriam Foltz, president of the Home and School Association at Baldi Middle School in the Northeast, who is white. "Are they seriously telling us that our kids won't graduate without this course? What an insult!

"There are other races in this city," Foltz said. "There are other cultures that will be very offended by this. How can you just mandate a course like this?"

District officials acknowledged that it would be better to have courses that adequately reflected all cultures, but that African and African American history for too long had been neglected.

"This isn't about being politically correct. It's about being comprehensive," said Paul Vallas, the district's chief executive officer. "We have a whole continent that has been absent from most of our textbooks."

James Nevels, chairman of the commission, acknowledged that the nation's Latino population was growing rapidly, and that the district soon might face a decision on how to adequately represent that group's culture.

"I guess the ideal I would love to see is a rich, diverse, textural and contextual history of all those who make up the fabric of America," Nevels said. "Short of that, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

Gregory Thornton, the district's chief academic officer, said the district had heard interest from other ethnic groups for the development of courses on Latino and Asian heritage.

"Those will be discussions for the future," Thornton said.

The new course likely will be taken by students in their sophomore year, Thornton said. The yearlong course, worth one of the 23.5 units required for graduation, will start with African history and cross over to African American history in January, he said.

The course will use the textbook The African American Odyssey by Darline Hine, and will start with origins of humanity, classical African civilizations, and early African leadership before moving into African Americans in colonial America, and African Americans and the Constitution. Eventually, students will learn about African Americans from the Civil War through civil rights and black nationalism.

Philadelphia appears to be at the forefront with the move, said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for big city school districts. "Courses on the subjects are offered as electives in other cities," he said.

Molefi Kete Asante, a Temple University professor, author and national expert on Afrocentric education, said in a previous interview that he was not aware of any school district that required African history.

Philadelphia offers African American history as an elective in nearly a dozen high schools, and it is piloting an African history course, also an elective, in several schools. The Africa course was designed by Asante.

The decision to mandate the course comes nearly 38 years after a few hundred black students demonstrated at school district headquarters to demand courses in African American studies. The Nov. 17, 1967, demonstration was etched in city history when police, under the command of Commissioner Frank L. Rizzo, waded into the chanting, singing throng and began clubbing students after a few climbed on top of cars. The students scattered, bloodied and screaming, while their leaders were inside presenting their demands to Superintendent Mark Shedd. Shedd was sympathetic to student concerns, but Rizzo ousted him as soon as he became mayor a few years later.

In 1968, the school board mandated that African American history be woven into the curriculum. The district for decades has tried different ways of doing that, but for just as long, critics have said it has not gone far enough.

Link

I'm all for having electives in African History, but a requirment for graduation? Huh?

The Hispanic population is similar to the African-American population and is growing at a much faster rate.

Why not required courses in Mexican/Spanish history too?
 

kogase

Diamond Member
Sep 8, 2004
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More pandering, this sickens me. Vic needs to go over there and kick all their asses.
 

Tab

Lifer
Sep 15, 2002
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I really wish we had more emphasis on history, focusing on this isn't the best of ideas.
Maybe if we focused more on history we wouldn't make the same mistakes over and over....
 

Engineer

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Oct 9, 1999
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Originally posted by: Riprorin
Why not required courses in Mexican/Spanish history too?


Give it a few more years and it'll happen. Hell, at this rate, Spanish may become the "official" language of the US sooner than later! :Q
 

umbrella39

Lifer
Jun 11, 2004
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In my high school history class we learned absolutely nothing about black Americans. It was all the old white guys. So maybe now we are getting a sense of what it must be like to be a black teenager, taking a high school history class, and learning little if anything about the many great black Americans this country has known.

To that end though, I am not sure they need a separate class, however. Why not make American history a 2 semester class that covers white, black, Indian, spanish, etc? No need to label the class by the race of the subject matter. Just call it good old American History and cover it all ffs.
 

kogase

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Sep 8, 2004
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Originally posted by: umbrella39
In my high school history class we learned absolutely nothing about black Americans. It was all the old white guys. So maybe now we are getting a sense of what it must be like to be a black teenager, taking a high school history class, and learning little if anything about the many great black Americans this country has known.

To that end though, I am not sure they need a separate class, however. Why not make American history a 2 semester class that covers white, black, Indian, spanish, etc? No need to label the class by the race of the subject matter. Just call it good old American History and cover it all ffs.

Don't be ridiculous. We learn about African Americans in American history. There should be no reason to mandate a course in the history of the continent of Africa in an American school. We learn a bit about it in our global history classes, along with a bit about every country outside of America. We don't need a course dedicated to Africa, at least, we don't need a required course.
 

umbrella39

Lifer
Jun 11, 2004
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Originally posted by: kogase
Originally posted by: umbrella39
In my high school history class we learned absolutely nothing about black Americans. It was all the old white guys. So maybe now we are getting a sense of what it must be like to be a black teenager, taking a high school history class, and learning little if anything about the many great black Americans this country has known.

To that end though, I am not sure they need a separate class, however. Why not make American history a 2 semester class that covers white, black, Indian, spanish, etc? No need to label the class by the race of the subject matter. Just call it good old American History and cover it all ffs.

Don't be ridiculous. We learn about African Americans in American history. There should be no reason to mandate a course in the history of the continent of Africa in an American school. We learn a bit about it in our global history classes, along with a bit about every country outside of America. We don't need a course dedicated to Africa, at least, we don't need a required course.

I am not being ridiculous. I went to high school in the late 70's early 80's and no black history was taught. Nothing about MLK, nothing about Harriet Tubman, nothing about GW Carver. I am sure things have changed a bit since then in regards to black history being taught in small doses.

Does anyone know the break down of black to white ratio in the Phili High Schools? Now if this is something like a 80-20 black to white split there might be some grounds for this? Not for me to decide though. How do the Philadelphians feel?
 

kogase

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Sep 8, 2004
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There are no grounds for a course in the history of another continent (and in this case it's really a course in specific countries of that continent, I'm sure the National Association for the Appreciation of Egytian Americans wasn't hollering for this) in America. African Americans are Americans like you or me. Hell, I'm a Swedirussoarmeniaustrioitalian American, how bout a spate of required courses involving those countries? Sound ridiculous? It is. Their ancestors may have come from Africa, but they are Americans.
 

beyoku

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Aug 20, 2003
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Originally posted by: Engineer
Originally posted by: Riprorin
Why not required courses in Mexican/Spanish history too?


Give it a few more years and it'll happen. Hell, at this rate, Spanish may become the "official" language of the US sooner than later! :Q

good.
 

gar3555

Diamond Member
Jan 8, 2005
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They only do this b/c as most say; American History is White history, so they feel the need to even the playing field
 

cwjerome

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Sep 30, 2004
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As a teacher of American history, I can say we teach American history in our state looking at all the major ethnic and cultural aspects that make up this history. It's inseparable.

This Philly deal seems idiotic. We don't go back and teach about England, Italy, France and Germany simply because that's where a lot of our descendents came from. How stupid can they get... as if African Americans have some sort of live, potent cultural link to Africa. Give me a break, most African American blood has been in America longer than white people's. Their history is all of our's history.
 

cwjerome

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Sep 30, 2004
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Piggy-backing on what I said earlier, I have to recommend a GREAT book by and old Washington Post bureau chief, Keith B. Richburg (who is Black BTW). "Out of America" deals with these issues and gives a scything indictment of Afrocentrism as harmful. Excellent read for anyone interested in race/culture issues.

 

Gaard

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Feb 17, 2002
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Originally posted by: CADsortaGUY
Originally posted by: kogase
More pandering, this sickens me. Vic needs to go over there and kick all their asses.

Agreed.

***

Sidebar - 7 replies and no one has attacked Rip yet. Congrats! :D

CsG
instigator ;)

 

Harvey

Administrator<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Originally posted by: Riprorin
Why not required courses in Mexican/Spanish history too?
Good idea. It probably wouldn't hurt to include some accurate history of China, Japan and a host of other places in the school curriculum. Nothing like a good, broad education to help them deal with the world they'll encounter.

Oops -- I'm sorry. I just realized your narrow view of the world precludes you from understanding your own good idea. :roll:

Pity. :(
 

kogase

Diamond Member
Sep 8, 2004
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Originally posted by: Harvey
Originally posted by: Riprorin
Why not required courses in Mexican/Spanish history too?
Good idea. It probably wouldn't hurt to include some accurate history of China, Japan and a host of other places in the school curriculum. Nothing like a good, broad education to help them deal with the world they'll encounter.

Oops -- I'm sorry. I just realized your narrow view of the world precludes you from understanding your own good idea. :roll:

I know in New York we have 2 years of what's called "Global History" that encompasses the world outside of America. It's ridiculous to pander to just one of the minorities inside this country like this. If we were to do that for everyone we'd have required Irish, Italian, African, Mexican, Chinese... the list goes on, and it is not practical.
 

Jadow

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Feb 12, 2003
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another example of why our schools are falling so far behind.

instead of this crap, add another math class teach people how to balance a checkbook for chrissakes
 

UglyCasanova

Lifer
Mar 25, 2001
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Originally posted by: Jadow
another example of why our schools are falling so far behind.

instead of this crap, add another math class teach people how to balance a checkbook for chrissakes

Yup, I think a required class in personal finance would do a lot of good. Get rid of P.E. (I'm sorry but 90% of the people in my PE class sat around doing nothing, we were graded on whether we dressed out or not. I'm all for being physically active but PE is just a waste of time and resources) and add in personal finance or something instead.
 

Duckzilla

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Nov 16, 2004
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Originally posted by: kogase


I know in New York we have 2 years of what's called "Global History" that encompasses the world outside of America. It's ridiculous to pander to just one of the minorities inside this country like this. If we were to do that for everyone we'd have required Irish, Italian, African, Mexican, Chinese... the list goes on, and it is not practical.


I agree completely.
 

judasmachine

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Sep 15, 2002
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ya never know it might actually do something revolutionary. it might actually educate someone.
 

kogase

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Sep 8, 2004
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Originally posted by: judasmachine
ya never know it might actually do something revolutionary. it might actually educate someone.

Ahem... and some good may come out of the Bush Admin's sojourn into the ME.
 

shira

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Jan 12, 2005
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Originally posted by: Riprorin

I'm all for having electives in African History, but a requirment for graduation? Huh?

The Hispanic population is similar to the African-American population and is growing at a much faster rate.

Why not required courses in Mexican/Spanish history too?

Hispanics in the U.S. do not face nearly the same hurdles caused by bigotry as blacks do, so it makes sense to institute courses that combat racial bigotry.

Frankly, it would also make a lot of sense if schools made courses in gay history and the gay lifestyle required for graduation. It might help reduce the amount of anti-gay bigotry in this country. Too bad you didn't receive that sort of education when you were young; you might have become a better person.
 

nutxo

Diamond Member
May 20, 2001
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Originally posted by: shira
Originally posted by: Riprorin

I'm all for having electives in African History, but a requirment for graduation? Huh?

The Hispanic population is similar to the African-American population and is growing at a much faster rate.

Why not required courses in Mexican/Spanish history too?

Hispanics in the U.S. do not face nearly the same hurdles caused by bigotry as blacks do, so it makes sense to institute courses that combat racial bigotry.

Frankly, it would also make a lot of sense if schools made courses in gay history and the gay lifestyle required for graduation. It might help reduce the amount of anti-gay bigotry in this country. Too bad you didn't receive that sort of education when you were young; you might have become a better person.


Gay history. :clock: