The Arduous Journey to Creating an AP Course in Black History and the Danger That Lies Ahead

It’s often said that Black history is American history. If that’s so, it should be thoroughly taught in schools across the United States. But it’s not. Most states don’t require that Black history be taught in public schools. The College Board, a nonprofit organization that develops curricula for K-12 and higher education systems, has attempted to inject Black history into high schools throughout the country by developing the framework for an Advanced Placement African American Studies (APAAS)

Dapping: The overlooked Black Celebration that has a Long, Life-Saving History

The Super Bowl last week was filled with cultural moments that blew people away. Usher provided one of the more entertaining halftime shows in recent memory. Beyoncé announced on a Verizon commercial she’s releasing new music . . . and of course, the NFL couldn’t get enough shots of Taylor Swift at the big game. However, there’s one act of the culture that took place that is hardly ever noticed these days, but is nevertheless a cultural touchpoint in the mainstream: the dap. Dap is a customary salutation or greeting amongst Black people. It’s a clasping of hands that can morph into additional hand exchanges and/or a bro hug.

How Haitian immigrants and local Black resistance helped subvert slavery in 18th century Philadelphia | Opinion

When it comes to Black history and the city of Philadelphia, there is much to reflect on and celebrate. There’s the work of South Jersey-born abolitionist William Still, who was known as the father of the Underground Railroad, responsible for ushering African Americans safely through Philadelphia on their way to freedom. There’s also the work of groups such as the Agricultural and Mechanics Association of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which purchased land and financed education for newly emancipated

Confronting the Uncomfortable: Strategies to Teach Enslavement

History can teach us a lot about where we are as a society and how we got here. Some historical topics are uncomfortable to engage in: they can be both difficult to learn as well as painful to teach. One such topic is chattel enslavement. Let me tell you: Enslavement was wrong. And it cannot, and should not, be ignored in the curriculum or in our society. The unpaid labor of African people, as well as the exploitation of resources from lands where the descendants of formerly enslaved Africans

Using Local Histories to Teach Black History

The teaching of Black history is currently under assault, and teachers, especially Black educators, find themselves on the front lines of this battle. We are often targeted simply because of the color of our skin. Nevertheless, I take pride in my Black identity, and I persevere, just as many other Black teachers do. To counter the relentless attacks by conservatives against Black history and its instruction, Black educators must adopt strategic approaches to subvert laws and policies intended

Prioritizing Black Students In Suburban Schools

When advocating for Black children, the focus is usually on Black students in the city. It’s because Black students traditionally attend schools in the city versus anywhere else. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), more Black people attend school in the city (46%) than in towns, rural areas, and the suburbs. We often forget about Black students outside the city. But updated data from NCES beckons that we pay Black students more attention outside the city.

Black QBs Have Given Philly Their All, So The City Must Do Its Own Soul Searching

Considering the history of Black quarterbacks, are they not enough of an underdog? After Fritz Pollard, the first Black quarterback in football history, came a ban on Black players by the NFL from 1933 to 1946. When the NFL reintegrated in 1946, the prevailing assumption was that Black athletes weren’t intelligent enough to play quarterback. Whites even assumed that Black players lacked the physical stamina and emotional courage to excel at contact sports like boxing and football.

On MLK day, politicians use banal quotes to cover up all the ways they don't follow King's message | Opinion

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses marchers during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, in Washington. Read more As another MLK Day arrives, politicians across the spectrum will post pictures with quotes by Martin Luther King Jr., using them as a veil to conceal all the ways their policies don’t align with his philosophies. Instead of, like King, advocating for voting rights, economic and environmental justice, and criminal justice, today’s legislato

Philly’s Ski Mask Ban Is Just Another Tool for Cops to Target Black Youth

The policy is part of a familiar playbook where governments enact racist fashion bans in the name of “curtailing crime.” The City Council of Philadelphia passed a ban in December on ski masks as a purported crime-fighting measure. According to the ordinance, wearing ski masks will be prohibited in parks, schools, public transit and other city-owned buildings, carrying with it a fine of $250 for each offense, and up to $2,000 if a mask is worn during the commission of a crime. The council bill

This MLK Day, We Must Remember His Anti-War—and Anti-Capitalist—Legacy

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. His father, Michael King Sr., when inspired by a visit to sites associated with the German protestant reformer Martin Luther, changed his name to Martin Luther King Sr. and his son’s to Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. would become a scholar, a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and an activist on behalf of not only Black people but all of the oppressed. His efforts resulted

Standing Tall in the Face of Attack

I’ve spoken and written at length about the need for educators to speak out against racism in all facets… especially concerning the educating of Black children. I’ll continue to do so because the totality of Black lives—academic, personal, and professional interactions and experiences—of Black children depend upon it. Whether it is speaking out against disproportionate disciplining i.e. suspensions, expulsions, and arrest, of Black children in schools, the lack of Black teachers in schools, the

Replacing Social Studies With STEM Is a Terrible Idea

For years, the trend in K-12 education policy circles has been to push public schools to offer more courses teaching students about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), sometimes at the expense of humanities courses. This is particularly true for the mix of history, civics, and the social sciences that we call social studies. Many states require high school students to take computer science while cutting or deemphasizing social studies requirements. And presidential

Stop-and-Frisk Policing by Any Other Name Won’t Provide Safety in Philadelphia

Philadelphia voters elected their first Black woman mayor in November. But will Mayor-elect Cherelle Parker actually improve the lives of Philly’s Black residents? While a political candidate’s race isn’t the most important factor for Black voters, it is a factor. Black representation in political spaces comes with an expectation that the circumstances and concerns of Black people are spoken for at the policymaking table. That Parker is a Black woman leading a city where Black people are a majority

Do You Know Who Your High Performing Teachers Are? How Are You Supporting Them To Get Even Better?

An important job for any educator in the classroom is to never forget the students who are exemplary academically. I remember attending schools where teachers were told to concentrate heavily on the students who were underperforming academically as a result of things going on outside of school or any cognitive challenges the student(s) may have had, or just poor prior instruction. As a result, the high performers were left to fend for themselves because they were so “smart.”

Are You Focused On Classroom Management Or Creating A Culture Of Cooperation

One of the most important foundations for having a good school year is setting the tone of the culture and the community. By that, I mean creating a classroom culture where students understand processes, procedures, and policies. But some teachers are too focused on “the rules” or students following the rules. Certainly, learning happens when there is order. But the opposite is true as well, if not more so: order is established when students learn. When teachers enter the classroom on the firs

Our Students Are Watching, But Are We Worth Emulating?

At the end of a recent school day, my principal called for a fire drill. I assumed it was just a routine exercise. However, for one of my students, it was anything but routine. As I followed our fire drill protocol, she stood right beside me, diligently going through each step and procedure as if she were a teacher herself. I could have asked her to return to the rest of the class, but I chose to let her take charge. She held our classroom binder containing the procedures and attendance list a

Students Suffer Because Adults Can’t Handle the Truth

In a recent Education Trust report, researchers discovered a significant absence of racial representation in many high-quality and highly rigorous texts. This lack extended to themes, characters, and authors. According to the report, as per Ed Week: • White authors and characters were significantly more prevalent than authors and characters from any other racial or ethnic background. • Nearly half of the people of color featured in the studied books were one-dimensional, portrayed negatively, or

Finding and Utilizing Culturally Relevant Texts

Classroom texts should represent all children in positive ways, and teachers may have to look for outside resources to make this happen. The report examines racial and ethnic representation in the books used in U.S. curricula and finds that White authors and characters are overrepresented, and portrayals of people of color are often troubling: “When books included groups and cultures of color, they often used stereotypes, disconnected culture from individual people, or portrayed those groups as

The Need for Restorative Justice: The Zwerner and Taylor Story

In January of 2023, a 1st-grade teacher was shot by her student; the bullet tore through her left hand and collapsed one of her lungs. In January of 2023, a 1st-grade teacher, Abigail Zwerner, was shot by her student; the bullet tore through her left hand and collapsed one of her lungs. Zwerner described the situation as a “monstrous event.” According to her statement: “He pointed the gun directly at me… I lost myself. I can’t teach again. I’ve lost my purpose. I love children, but now I’m af

Educators Must Be Truth Tellers About Israel-Palestine

There is a war against Black history. Educators didn’t enlist in this fight, but their classrooms are now battlegrounds. Efforts to silence Black history are part of an overall scheme by conservatives to erase inconvenient truths, such as white supremacy, racial capitalism, and systemic racism—as these truths explain many, if not most, of the challenges we face as a society. For that reason, educators must teach these truths and defend the right and obligation to teach them. Another truth tha
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