September 25 — 1:31 pm, 2002

A new push for African American studies

Top School District officials are planning new steps to insure implementation of the District’s long-standing commitment to "provide a well-rounded program of African and Afro-American history and culture for every child."

This commitment was issued as a District policy statement in 1969 and later reaffirmed. But community advocates for inclusion of African and African American studies have protested for years over the lack of follow-through.

In August, both District Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas and School Reform Commissioner Sandra Dungee Glenn convened meetings of District officials and community advocates to address this issue. The meeting organized by Glenn was attended by Vallas and the District’s top academic officials.

Glenn said her goal was to start a process so that by next fall "we finally implement what was a 1969 School District policy." Glenn commented.

According to Carolyn Holmes, supervisor for African American studies in the District’s curriculum office, committees are being convened to work on strengthening the curriculum and on a specific proposal for a mandatory course on African and African American studies.

There was general agreement among participants in the meetings that the District’s commitment to the inclusion of African and African American studies has never been enforced, Holmes said. The District’s "Curriculum Frameworks" do call for inclusion of African and African American studies, she added, but more curriculum resources and professional development are needed.

For more information on the African and African American studies initiative, contact Commissioner Sandra Dungee Glenn at (215) 299-7799 or Carolyn Holmes at the School District, (215) 299-4986.

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