Winston-Salem School Board Votes Down Mandatory African-American History Courses, Knee-Jerk Reactions Abound

WINSTON-SALEM – Tuesday night the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board voted 7-1 remove the mandatory label from African-American History courses, and instead voted to expand course offerings in minority history as electives. Judging by the reaction and coverage, you’d think the board forbade African-American history altogether.

From the Winston-Salem Journal:

“[…] Advocates of a mandatory African American history course showed up in full force, helping to nearly fill the auditorium in the Education Building on Bethania Station Road in Winston-Salem.

Of the nearly 28 people who spoke during the public sessions, the majority of them backed the mandatory course.

“I want to bring a little truth serum to this discussion around an African American studies class,” Miranda Jones of Local Organizing Committee said to the board prior to the vote. “This will not be easy, much like being black in Winston-Salem or trying to teach under Euroscentic curriculum isn’t easy. The truth is, most of my people don’t think we’ll get this class, just like most of us never thought we’d live to see a black president, just like most of us thought we’d never see a black woman chair….” […]”

The great news for Ms. Jones and all those that came out to fight for keeping an African-American history class in their educational offerings, even though it doesn’t seem to have dawned on them, is that there WILL BE those course, and EVEN MORE minority history offerings. Just after the vote to make African-American history elective versus mandatory, the board voted to implement an ‘infusion’ curriculum that included even more diverse history options.

“[…] the board unanimously approved an infusion program recommended by WS/FCS Superintendent Angela P. Hairston.

Hairston’s recommendations include four courses as electives for students in every high school – African American Studies, Latin American Studies, American Indian Studies and Ethnic Literature. Each course would be worth one full credit and have standard and honors course options. […]”

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Under this plan students could now elect to take the niche history course they prefer, hopefully after several doses of honest to goodness American History, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution, and, yes, slavery (individual rights).

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So what were the activists all worked up about if African-American history courses will still be available to any and all who wish to take them? If anything, the discretion afforded in elective course could improve the depth of these classes. It’s hard not to worry that those activists fighting for the courses to remain mandatory do so because it helps foster a particular historical perspective that serves to further a very distinct political agenda.

Usually, if a school district expanded the diversity of their minority history offerings, they’d get woke points from the social justice class. Board members may have expected as much from their plan.

Read more about the plan and the (over)reactions to the vote here.

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