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HomeGeneralMissouri School Board Drops Black History Classes After Rescinding Anti-Racism Resolution

Missouri School Board Drops Black History Classes After Rescinding Anti-Racism Resolution

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The Francis Howell School Board recently dropped Black History and Black Literature. The district’s three high schools have offered these courses since 2021. Just over 100 students took the classes this semester in the suburban area of St. Louis.

The school board voted 5-2 to stop offering the courses. In July, the board revoked an anti-racism resolution and had copies removed from school buildings. 

The resolution games’ adoption happened in August 2020 amid the national turmoil. It followed the death of George Floyd.

The resolution says the community would “speak firmly against any racism, discrimination, and senseless violence against people regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability.”

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ALSO READ: Civil Rights Lawyers Disagree With a School District’s Segregated Classes

Since last year’s election, five new members have taken control of the board. And they have targeted the resolution and course offerings. They did this with the backing of the conservative political action committee Francis Howell Families. All seven board members are white.

The PAC’s website opposes the courses, saying they involve the critical race theory. However, many experts say the scholarly theory has been focusing on how racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions. And how they don’t teach it in K-12 schools.

Parents and students did not like their decision. It caused protests outside the board meeting, with some chanting, “Let them learn!” 

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Inside, speakers also questioned the move. 

POLL — Is Systemic Racism a Significant Problem That Requires Reform in Policing and Other Areas?

“You’ve certainly taught me not to underestimate how low you will go to show your disdain toward the Black and brown communities’ experiences and existence,” a Black father said. 

Another speaker, Tom Ferri, urged the board to focus on more significant issues, such as high teacher turnover. “Tapping into a diverse talent pipeline would be a great way to slow attrition, but what diverse staff wants to work in a district waging culture wars?” he asked.

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Board Vice President Randy Cook Jr. was elected in 2022. He does not support the school’s decision, saying he and others object to using “Social Justice Standards.” District spokesperson Jennifer Jolls said that new Black history and literature courses “could be redeveloped and brought to the Board for approval in the future.”

According to the district, the present semester saw 60 students enroll in the Black History course. And 42 took Black Literature. Francis Howell is one of Missouri’s largest school districts, with 16,647 students, 7.7% of whom are Black. Unfortunately, the county’s growth has coincided with the equally dramatic population decline in St. Louis City. 

In 1960, there were 750,000 residents in St. Louis, while St. Charles County had 53,000. Now, St. Louis’ population is 293,000, and it is evenly split between Black and white residents. 

Sadly, racial issues remain sensitive in the St. Louis region. In July 2023, Cook defended rescinding the anti-racism resolution, saying the board “doesn’t need to be in the business of dividing the community.”

ALSO READ: Segregation is Being Reintroduced as “Affinity Classes” in American Classrooms

The district’s description of the Black Literature course says it focuses “on contemporary and multi-genre literary works of Black authors and will celebrate the dignity and identity of Black voices.”

School board elections all over the U.S. have become intense political battlegrounds since 2020 when groups started pushing back against policies to stem the spread of COVID-19.

PACs in many local districts have been able to elect candidates who promised to take action against teachings on race and sexuality, remove books deemed offensive, and stop transgender-inclusive sports teams.

They have been doing that, but nobody knows how this will affect America’s future. 

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