The online home of the Central Focus

The online home of the Central Focus

The online home of the Central Focus

Board of Education rescinds curriculum standards for Black History and Literature classes

A speaker at the Dec. 21 Board meeting, Harry Harris, voices his opinion on the Board’s decision during the Patron Comments section. Photo courtesy of the FHSD YouTube Channel.

“For students. Everything we do should be for students,” last speaker Steven Blair said during the Patron Comments section of the Dec. 21 FHSD Board of Education meeting.

The district-approved classes Black Literature and Black History were voted by the Board for their curricula approval to be rescinded during the meeting on Thurs, Dec. 21, and will take effect after July 1, 2024 preceding the 2024-25 school year.

Directors Chad Lange and Janet Stiglich voted for a motion to amend the curricula of the Black History and Literature classes until a new one is developed.

President Adam Bertrand, Vice President Randy Cook, Treasurer Jane Puszkar, and Directors Ron Harmon and Mark Ponder voted against keeping the Black History and Literature classes and amending the curricula.

Curriculum Standards, an action item Vice President Cook added on Wed, Dec. 20, an hour before, at 5:45 p.m, the 24-hour window for changing the meeting agenda closed,  is a motion to rescind approval, for use of the academic standards titled “Social Justice Standards: The Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework,” proposing to get rid of the curricula of the Black History and Literature classes.

At FHC, English teacher Mrs. Sarah LaRue is currently working to revive Black Literature, according to Mrs. Barb Riti, an FHC history teacher who has been teaching the Black History class for the past three years and has been teaching for 16 years in the district and 22 years overall. Mrs. Riti explains the curricula of the Black History class.

“In Black History we do a chronological study of African-American history beginning with the ancient empires of Africa, to the gold-salt trade to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Then colonialism, abolitionist movement, civil war and reconstruction. We studied HBCUs (Historically Black colleges and universities), Black congressmen then ended the semester with a choice project on a topic of the student’s choice,” Mrs. Riti said.This class represents a significant part of our nation’s history. It discusses the struggles, successes and contributions of the African-American community.”

Director Lange proposed amending the classes’ curricula and Director Stiglich seconded his proposal. Vice President Cook didn’t discuss the proposal with the curriculum committees, and Treasurer Puskar said how the Board has the right to make decisions without the committees’ input.

“The curriculum committee and academic advisory committee serve for the Board, not the other way around. The Board retains the right to make decisions without them,” Treasurer Puskar said.

Director Stiglich said the committees have a right to be heard.

“How is that collaborative? We work together as a team. We put ourselves on these committees. Why aren’t we considering what they have to say?” Director Stiglich said. “I feel like we’re not being inclusive, at all.”

Vice President Cook said he’s had his mind made up for two years, and it would be a waste of time to discuss changing the curricula of these classes.

“It would be a waste of their time because the Board, I don’t think, will be swayed by any of their opinions,” Vice President Cook said during the ensuing discussion.

Many speakers during the patron comments spoke passionately about the proposed motion.

“I’m absolutely disgusted at the last minute add of the removal of the anti-bias framework from the Black History and Lit classes, as it is obviously, obviously, a thinly veiled attempt to undermine those classes,” Harry Harris, the fourth speaker during the Patron comments section of the meeting said. “But you certainly taught me to not underestimate how low you will go to show your disdain toward the black and brown community experiences and existence…In a district that is 15-20 percent people of color, they felt strongly about removing still the anti-racism resolution without being able to really explain why it was hurting anything.”

Mrs. Riti describes the message the Board is sending to the district community.

“It is a privilege to work through these important topics with students. It demonstrates a lack of acknowledgement of a considerable part of our nation’s history. It is frustrating and sad,” Mrs. Riti said.

Francis Howell Families, a political action committee who contributed in the April 2023 Board election supporting a “Back to Basics” approach, wrote an article on Dec. 21 about the proposed rescinding of the approval of these classes’ curricula suggesting the classes are “ideological indoctrination.”

“The left knows that getting rid of these standards (and any curriculum using them) is a first step in removing ideological indoctrination from schools, so they are going ballistic,” writes the article urging the community to support their favored policy during the meeting.

“What a dark day,” Director Stiglich said after the voting.

View Comments (2)
Donate to
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Francis Howell Central High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs. and our subsequent publications are dedicated to the students by the students. We hope you consider donating to allow us to continue our mission of a connected and well-informed student body.

More to Discover
Donate to
Our Goal

Comments (2)

All Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • C

    Christopher WilliamsJan 1, 2024 at 7:12 pm

    The board and the district as a whole should be ashamed of themselves. The talk about wanting to be more diverse that is said throughout administration, board members etc is just a big lie. When you’re ok with removing something as powerful as this without even blinking an eye or thinking about how your cheating kids out of learning a major part of history, is a shame. No matter what you may think, Black History is American History, before we can go forward, we need to learn, appreciate and Respect what happened in the past and give credit and respect where credit and respect where deserved!!!

  • T

    Tim CoricaDec 25, 2023 at 11:51 am

    Keep reporting and shining light on stories like this!