BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — A new high school requirement is adding to the Connecticut’s history curriculum.
The state is showing off the new Black and Hispanic studies course to kick off Black History Month. Gov. Ned Lamont signed a state law in 2019 that all schools must offer the course as an elective.
“Being able to see themselves in the curriculum, their peers in the curriculum,” said Michaela Katzman, who teaches the course.
More than 1500 students took the elective when it was piloted last year. School officials said the course is not Critical Race Theory, it’s U.S. history.
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Connecticut became the first state in the country to require high schools to offer Black and Hispanic studies courses. Now, it’s offered at 175 districts nationwide, with more being added soon.
Lamont said what is being taught should reflect students, and wants to take that mission further.
“I want it to be part of our regular curriculum,” Lamont said. ” I just think it out to be built into American History.”
Florida’s education department disagrees, blocking a proposed Advanced Placement course on African American studies last week, calling it a political move and violation of state law.
“[Florida doesn’t] want to have courses like this and schools like this,” Lamont said. “They are dead wrong.”
Connecticut’s course starts before slavery in the U.S., informing students of ancient African kingdoms and their influences on Europe.
Students said the different perspective makes them feel more connected to learning.
“Rather than the tragedy of minorities in the country, we covered their royalties and their accomplishments, which really widened the range of what I thought about myself and my peers,” said Alana Lilley, a junior at CREC Academy of International Studies.
Andhy Loja, a sophomore at the school, said the course was “eye-opening.”
“Everybody can learn from this and hopefully it can grow bigger,” Loja said.
Black History Month starts on Feb. 1 and runs through the end of the month.