RICHMOND, Va.— Governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginia students will have the opportunity to take a new Black history class in school this year.
“Black history is American history, but for too long, the story we have told was insufficient and inadequate,” said Governor Northam. “The introduction of this groundbreaking course is a first step toward our shared goal of ensuring all Virginia students have a fuller, more accurate understanding of our history, and can draw important connections from those past events to our present day.”
The class will be a high school level elective focusing on African American history, from pre-colonial Africa through today. Students will learn about African American voices, including many not traditionally highlighted, and their contributions in Virginia and America.
“We can expect young Virginians to understand the enduring impacts of systemic racism only when they fully understand both the oppression experienced by African Americans and their significant contributions to STEM, the arts, education, law, and advocacy,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “As a history teacher, I know that this course is long overdue and is a first step toward telling a more inclusive story about the past and how it has shaped the present.”
Gov. Northam lead state leaders to start working on the course last year. Since then, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), Virtual Virginia, WHRO Public Media, and committees of history teachers, historians, and history professors have developed the new course to challenge students to explore the American American experience.
“I want to thank the division superintendents and teachers who stepped forward and volunteered to be part of this watershed moment in the history of public education in our state,” said Dr. Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “I also want to thank all of the educators around the Commonwealth who participated in the development of this course for their dedication to historical accuracy and equipping young Virginians with the comprehensive and accurate story of our past.”
Teachers presenting the course will receive support throughout the year with training focused on building content capacity, developing a deeper knowledge of Black history, strengthening culturally responsive teaching practices, and the use of anti-biased/anti-racist education practices.
They will also collaborate in the development of resources and materials for the future as the class expands to more school divisions.
This class will be offered during the 2020-2021 school year in 16 school divisions throughout the state:
· Alleghany County
· Amherst County
· Arlington County
· Carroll County
· Chesterfield County
· Franklin County
· Henrico County
· Henry County
· Loudoun County
· Prince William County