Connecticut high schools will now be required to offer a course in African American, Black, Latino and Puerto Rican studies after the state Board of Education unanimously approved its implementation Wednesday.
The new curriculum will be offered as a full-year elective for students, but the board is hoping that with enough momentum, it could expand and be required for all students.
“This is the beginning,” Ingrid Canady, executive director of the State Education Resource Center, told the board on Wednesday. “Legislators, they are very clear that the goal is for this to happen across every single grade level.”
The new course is a direct result of a public act signed by Gov. Ned Lamont last June and will cover historical movements, accomplishments, struggles, citizenship rights, intersections between the groups and more.
Schools can begin offering the class during the 2021-22 academic year, but by fall 2022, every school will be required to offer the curriculum. The state Department of Education will also be required 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.
Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said having courses like these in schools is something the board should keep in mind when talking about attendance and how to get students to engage.
“Let’s not forget the connection between kids wanting to be in school and kids attending school,” he said. “And when we see that our attendance rate with Black and Latino students is worse, when we see that our achievement outcomes or academic outcomes are disparate in Connecticut, we have to take real action.”
He added that the “real action” is approving this and presenting it to every student, not only to Black and Latino students, so that they feel like they can connect with what they’re learning.
“I think there’s equal benefit to students who are not Black and Latino to take this course,” Cardona said. “We hear about windows and doors, that curriculum serves as a window into other cultures. This is a window into another culture for many students.”