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Reinstated? The FHSD Board is set to vote on the Black History/Literature courses this week. Here's what you need to know...

Updated: Mar 18

Our board majority (the FHSD5) says they always intended to retain the Black History/Literature classes, that they only meant to eliminate the standards associated with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and that they had every confidence in our curriculum team to rewrite the curriculum in time for Fall semester 2024. Are these claims made in good faith? What awareness should we have as we anticipate their vote this week?


The 7 FHSD board members are shown sitting in their official seats at the December 2023 meeting.

 

In truth, the board's own interactions at the December board meeting make their intentions clear. (See clips as well as the full, 7-minute discussion below.)


Randy Cook: “To take this to a curriculum committee would not sway my vote… On this item, my mind is made up already. It’s been made up for two years.” (Hear Director Cook's exchange with Director Stiglich.)




Jane Puszkar: (reaffirming Bob Onder, a state politician calling out from the audience): 

“The curriculum committee and the academic advisory committee both report to the board and serve for the board, not the other way around… The board reserves the right to make decisions without them.”


Ron Harmon: (confused about the curriculum being discussed and the motions being considered) 

“I’m trying to figure out exactly what we’re asking… (after being reoriented within the amendment discussion) And then the book that I borrowed from you … what part of the curriculum am I reading?... It’s a history book, maybe it’s the Black History course itself, that I’m reading?... so the second class would be a writing course?


Mark Ponder: Silent, except to ask Dr. Buckman about a timeline. Ignoring her cautions regarding enrollment disruptions, he ultimately votes to remove the classes. (See Dr. Buckman's explanation.)





Adam Bertrand: “At the end of the day, it’s the board’s responsibility to dictate curriculum, and make that judgment call.”


As director Stiglich noted, this is only partly true. The board is an oversight meant to approve the cost of the curriculum, not to dictate curriculum. Our trained education professionals evaluate and write curriculum.



 

We would like to thank our outgoing board members, Janet Stiglich and Chad Lange for standing up for education.


Janet Stiglich: “I would love to know if this was brought forward to the curriculum committee… I want to know if our administration had time to look at this…. I would like to at least include other people in this decision.” (See more of her comments in the first video of this post.)


Chad Lange: Attempted to amend the motion to keep the courses in place until new curriculum could be developed to the board majority’s standards; only he and Director Stiglich voted to support the amendment. The other 5 members voted no. (Hear Director Lange's amendment.)



 

A word about changes seen in the revised courses and other options that may be brought forward as alternatives. 


The revised curriculums feature a less robust examination of Black History/Literature in that there is reduced attention to racism as a part of historical and literary themes relating to the Black experience. Still, with a very short timeline, our curriculum team has utilized Missouri State learning standards to preserve the courses, meaning students have been free to enroll and will have an opportunity to experience themes from the lives of past and present Black Americans. We hope very much that the board will approve the courses as they stand.


We do have concerns, based on remarks made by Jane Puszkar and Ken Gontarz, that board members may offer alternatives such as Florida’s version of Black History, where curriculum perpetuates the myth that enslavement was somehow a benefit to the enslaved, or an offshoot of the 1776 Project, which has been widely discredited. 



VIEW THE FULL, 7-MINUTE DISCUSSION HERE, starting at 2:17:26



 

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