Bridgeport’s school board recently approved a mandate that requires high school students to take a half-year course in African-American or Caribbean/Latin-American studies.
In the second half of the year, students will have to take a civics course, which is required by the State of Connecticut. The requirement starts next year, for the class of 2022.
Sauda Baraka, vice chairperson of the school board, says that she has been pushing for this requirement since she joined the board in 2005.
“Having a board who understands the importance of having this information available and accessible to our children so that we can empower them to do more with their lives, we were able to make it a mandatory requirement.”
Los Angeles and Philadelphia also require ethnic studies classes to graduate. Baraka says this is an opportunity for students to understand who they are in the context of the history of this country.
“For African-American students, our history did not begin with enslavement, our history goes much further back. For people in Caribbean and Latino cultures, the same thing is true. For students who are not students of African or Latino/Caribbean descent, what they learn is that this country is a country of many people with long-standing histories and again, those histories did not begin when this country started.”
Creating the curriculum and paying for the teacher trainings will cost up to $180,000. The school board has applied to Fairfield University for grants to help pay for the new curriculum.