The recently approved city budget sets aside $10 million in funds requiring the public school system to develop a new K-12 black history and studies curriculum amid a national debate over the legacy of racism in America.
Some of the funds from the “Education Equity” program will be used to prepare instructors to teach the new “woke” curriculum.
Broadening the study of Africans and African-Americans has long been a priority of black legislators and educators.
“It’s something that’s long overdue,” said term-limited Queens Councilman Daneek Miller “This is a celebration for those of us who are leaving the Council.”.
He said that more than 80 percent of the city’s public school students are black, Hispanic or Asian but only 5 percent of textbooks focus on figures who are racial or ethnic minorities.
Miller said the new curriculum should include more contributions of Africans and black people before the onset of slavery in America.
“To be blunt about it. All many people know is the arrival of Africans in America through the slave trade and then. `We freed you and that’s Ok,”’ Miller said.
“There’s a stigma to that.”
He continued, “We want people to see the contributions of Africans in history before the slave trade, before the Roman Empire. The contributions to civilization from Timbuktu and Western Africa.”
Miller credited grassroots activists and educators from the Adelaide Sanford Institute and the Eagle Academy for Young Men for pushing to establish a new black studies program in the city schools.
The council Initiatives’ spending on education nearly doubled from $21.68 million to $39.6 million, with a large chunk going to the new Black Studies program.
The new initiative comes as debate rages over an academic concept called critical race theory. The thrust of the theory is that racism is systemic and ingrained in US legal systems and policies that have resulted in housing and school segregation, and not just a result of individual bias.
But critics claim critical race theory amounts to racial indoctrination that ascribes collective and historical guilt to white Americans over the past and should not be taught in schools.