The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education voted down a measure that would have required high school students to take an African American history class to graduate.
The mandated black history course failed by a 7 to 1 vote. But the board unanimously passed a motion to support Superintendent Angela Pringle Hairston's plan to expand the district's Infusion Program, which includes African American Studies.
It wouldn't be required for graduation, but high schools in the district would have to offer a black history course, regardless of how many people sign up to take it. Hairston says it will also include courses for Latino students and other ethnicities.
Board Chair Malishai "Shai" Woodbury says it will give the district more time to look at resources and costs associated with the changes.
“I think if the community can get beyond maybe the frustration of what some people think should have happened, then we really can move forward in a unified way to support our superintendent to increase academic achievement for all students,” says Woodbury.
“It's a big step for the school board and the community,” says Al Jabbar of Kernersville. “It's important. This is a history that will enrich all of our children in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System. I hope that this will encourage young black males to have a sense of value as they operate in our school system.”
In late spring, organizers with Hate Out of Winston and other groups lobbied the school board to budget money for textbooks, teacher training, and other resources to teach more African American history.
Hairston says her plan is robust and would represent the community. It also includes adding multi-cultural infusion programs for grades K-8.
As for the high school courses, the goal is to change them from half a credit to a full one to make them more attractive to students.
“I'm encouraged that this is the beginning of something that can be molded and made powerful because I would like to see women's studies, women's history. You know we can go on and on,” says Ronda Mays, a social worker with the district. She adds, “It's a beginning foundation for our district to build upon, so none of our students are left out of history when studying it in school.”
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