CPS Unveils Curriculum for African-American Studies

Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Chicago Tribune, December 12, 2013

Despite a 1990 state law requiring that African-American history be taught in public schools, the subject has been taught sporadically in Chicago, often coming up only during Black History Month or to mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

On Wednesday, Chicago Public Schools unveiled a new curriculum guide that will allow teachers to incorporate African and African-American studies into core subjects throughout the year, bringing the district into compliance with the state requirement, officials said.

Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett launched a committee to develop the curriculum after it was brought to her attention during a call-in radio show that CPS was not meeting the terms of the 1990 law, district officials said.

In response, the district put together “a yearlong, interdisciplinary African and African-American studies program that will enrich the understanding and appreciation of African and African-American history and culture to help build stronger and more cohesive student communities,” Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.


[CPS’ chief officer of teaching and learning Annette] Gurley said the curriculum will go beyond the obvious subjects of slavery and civil rights, delving into the contributions of people of African and African-American heritage at the local, national and global level.

That means students will learn about well-known kings and queens from Africa, and lesser-known people who contributed to the city and the state. The curriculum spans kindergarten through 10th grade and subjects including science, math, arts and physical education.


With the majority of the district’s students of Hispanic heritage, the district has begun designing a similar curriculum for Latin and Latin American studies, officials said.

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