Social Studies

African-American Studies: Separate, Unequal?

By Sean Cavanagh — November 30, 2009 1 min read

Only a handful of Florida school districts are ensuring that African-American history is adequately covered in the classroom, a state-funded task force argues.

Members of that study group, the Florida Task Force on African American History tell the Orlando Sentinel that it’s a significant—and possibly illegal—omission.

In 1994, Florida approved a law, supported by the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, that required that schools teach black history “and the contributions of African Americans to society,” according to the article. Only eight of Florida’s 67 school districts have met the task force’s standards for including African-American studies into the curriculum. Too often, task force members say, schools merely discuss African-American contributions in isolation, such as during Black History Month in February, rather than blending it into the curriculum. Administrators in some of the districts criticized by the study group say the accusations are off the mark.

A few of the districts that have met the task force’s “exemplary” standards for covering African-American history are among the state’s most populated: Pinellas, in the St. Petersburg area, and Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade, in South Florida. Are districts and states in other parts of the country more successful in presenting African-American history topics in a seamless way? Or are Florida officials more successful than they’re given credit for?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.