Posted on December 26, 2023

Missouri School Board That Previously Rescinded Anti-Racism Resolution Drops Black History Classes

Jim Salter, Associated Press, December 22, 2023

A conservative-led Missouri school board has voted to drop elective courses on Black history and literature, five months after the same board rescinded an anti-discrimination policy adopted in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.

The Francis Howell School Board voted 5-2 Thursday night to stop offering Black History and Black Literature, courses that had been offered at the district’s three high schools since 2021. A little over 100 students took the courses this semester in the predominantly white suburban area of St. Louis.

In July, the board revoked an anti-racism resolution and ordered copies removed from school buildings. The resolution was adopted in August 2020 amid the national turmoil after a police officer killed Floyd in Minneapolis.

The resolution pledged that the Francis Howell community would “speak firmly against any racism, discrimination, and senseless violence against people regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability.”

The resolution and course offerings were targeted by five new members who have taken control of the board since being elected last year and in April, all with the backing of the conservative political action committee Francis Howell Families. All seven board members are white.

The PAC’s website expresses strong opposition to the courses, saying they involve principals of critical race theory, though many experts say the scholarly theory centered on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions is not taught in K-12 schools.

The decision to drop the courses was met with protests outside the board meeting. {snip}

“You’ve certainly taught me to not underestimate how low you will go to show your disdain toward the Black and brown communities’ experiences and existence,” Harry Harris, a Black father, told the board.


Board Vice President Randy Cook Jr., who was elected in 2022, said the Francis Howell courses to which he and others objected used “Social Justice Standards” developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center with a bent toward activism.

“I do not object to teaching black history and black literature; but I do object to teaching black history and black literature through a social justice framework,” Cook said in an email on Friday. “I do not believe it is the public school’s responsibility to teach social justice and activism.”


Francis Howell is among Missouri’s largest school districts, with 16,647 students, 7.7% of whom are Black. {snip}