CT Senate endorses plan requiring schools to teach African American, Latino history

Sen. Douglas McCrory speaks Thursday at a news conference held by the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus. (Kathleen Megan, CTMirror.org)

Connecticut schools will be required to offer a course in  African American, Puerto Rican and Latino history by 2022 under a bill unanimously approved by the state Senate late Thursday night.

The Senate vote came days after the House of Representatives endorsed the plan. The bill now goes to Gov. Ned Lamont for consideration.

The vote came after an emotional speech by Sen. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, who said that for students to be successful, the curriculum they are taught must be rigorous and relevant to their lives.

Noting that very few students consider history or social studies to be their favorite subject, McCrory said, “Well, if  you were sitting in a classroom and all you learned was that you was a slave and you was trouble and you didn’t bring anything to this country, then you wouldn’t think that subject was very important to you either. You see the problem we have is, if you were never told you did anything, then you will never believe you can do anything.”

McCrory, a longtime educator himself, said that during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, there were five black Congressmen, but “no one told us, no one told us … Now, that’s the type of history that would motivate you.”

He said that “providing a curriculum where everyone can benefit and everyone can learn about the positive things they’ve done will provide opportunity for all of us to see.”

The bill, which was approved earlier this week in the House, authorizes the State Education Resource Center to develop the one-credit course for high school students and calls on the State Board of Education to approve it no later than Jan. 1, 2021.

The bill requires school districts to offer the course by July, 2022, but stipulates that they can begin offering it as early as July, 2021.

The fiscal note for the development of the course includes one-time costs of $400,000 for curriculum development as well as the annual salary of a full time staff member — $85,000 plus $35,012 in fringe benefits — to ensure that districts meet the requirement.

While students will not be required to take the class — it will be an elective  — school districts will be required to offer it.

The bill also requires the state Department of Education to conduct an audit from July, 2022 through July 2024 to ensure the course is being offered by each local and regional board of education.


Mitch Adis June 1, 2019 at 8:29 am

Wouldn’t African AMERICAN history be cover in what is called American history? Secondly, wouldn’t Foreign history cover Latino history too? So, what they are saying is we should cover what has been available for decades. Good job paying attention CT Senate!

Stuart Wells June 1, 2019 at 9:19 am

African American, Puerto Rican, and Latino history IS American history. It has just been left out of the history courses for years.

Piberman June 1, 2019 at 10:34 am

Reducing the CT Budget was too strenuous. So now they’re dictating what too teach. But not too concerned that reportedly only about 40% of CT students secure college degrees. Or that few take math and science placements. Or that few are well suited to secure good jobs in our computer oriented hi-tech age. Or that reportedly 1 in 3 residents of Bridgeport live at or below poverty status. Looks like picking “easy fruit”.

Diane Lauricella June 1, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Great news…it’s about time we speak about real history, not the whitewashed version Baby boomers like me heard in school!

Piberman June 1, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Anyone ever meet a public school student who learned the 1864 Democratic Presidential candidate ran on a platform of allowing the Confederacy to secede and maintain its slavery institutions ? Or who learned he details of 50 years of Jim Crow laws ? Or who learned about the humiliating segregation imposed on Black GI’s during WWII.

It’s not just a problem of our public school students. Ask any college prof teaching US history what their students bring to the table.

Improving pubic education curriculums is a job for the teaching professionals. Not part time Legislators

John Levin June 1, 2019 at 5:57 pm

Alice and Mitch: I think you raise an important point. But the problem, in my opinion, is that American history classes have paid little attention to the extraordinary level of violence and racial terrorism that emancipated slaves and their descendants were subjected to during the 100 years between the civil war and the voting rights act of 1965. Frankly, in my opinion, no high school history education shroud be considered completed without a full day visit to the Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

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