Hermann Park Rotary Club Education Committee worked with State School Board Member to support the offering of the elective course beginning in 2020-21 school year
The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) recently approved standards for an African American Studies course for high school students to be offered beginning in the 2020-21 school year. The elective course was unanimously approved by the SBOE, and work has begun on the development of a curriculum from those standards so that the class will be available to Texas high school students in the fall of 2020.
The Hermann Park Rotary Club Education Committee (HPRCEC), which is made up of volunteers from the Texas Education Service Center Region 4, were actively involved in this process. A group of over 20 HPRCEC members worked with State School Board Member Lawrence Allen (District 4) to provide amendments to the proposed document. Dr. Robert Ford and Houston Community College (HCC) Professor Gretchen Odion testified online in support of the course.
Upon receiving the news of the approval of the course, the HPRCEC expressed its excitement about the opportunity to expand the narrative taught in Texas’ schools. To ensure this happens speedily, the HPRCEC has strongly recommended that an Advisory Committee in HISD and Region 4 be formed to assist school districts throughout the region.
Throughout Region 4, there is local history that needs to be taught. African American history in Texas dates back almost 500 years to 1528 with the arrival of Esteban. The contributions of African Americans throughout those five centuries are acres of diamonds waiting to be discovered by a new generation of students.
“The course should not just be teaching dates and names but be more engaging by including the performing arts to bring this history to life,” said Naomi Carrier, HPRCEC member.
For the class to be successful, the HPRCEC believes addressing the following four areas is critical:
- Teacher Professional Development
- Engaging Principals
- Recruiting Students
- Identifying Appropriate Course Materials
The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (NTHP) theme is, “to tell the full American story,” and it is one of the many national initiatives that aligns with the new course.
“African American history is American history. For too long it has been a footnote in our history books, and this course allows us to expand that footnote to a 1 credit elective for students,” said NTHP Texas Advisor Samuel Collins III.
The HPRCEC believes this course should be the spark that lights a fire of lifelong study for students. School districts throughout Region 4 are being strongly encouraged to seek the help of subject matter experts in the area of African American Studies.
The HPRCEC has expressed an eagerness to help with this effort. Individuals with an interest in African American studies should join our effort and are being asked to contact HPRCEC Chairperson Ted Weisgal at 281-546-6793 or by email at email@example.com.