WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Angel Iverson, a 14-year-old African American student at Waterbury Career Academy, told News 8 what she’s learned about her culture and her culture’s history in school has been basic.
“They kind of just scratch the surface,” she said.
That’s troubling to Greg Johnson, President of the Ansonia-Valley National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“We’re failing, and it’s quite evident,” Johnson said.
So, he called for a meeting with area school district leaders from around the Naugatuck Valley on Wednesday to urge them to recognize a need for change in Connecticut classrooms regarding what is and what isn’t taught about the histories of minority groups in America.
He said there needs to be more of it, especially when you see what’s happening in America’s streets and the movement for reform.
“We, as a country, have to take a stance to change the paradigm in the way Black and Brown kids are educated and treated in the hallways of these schools,” he said.
Educators at the meeting got the message loud and clear, including the new superintendent of Naugatuck Public Schools.
“It’s a moral imperative for us to examine how we do things,” said Christopher Montini, Superintendent of Naugatuck Public Schools.
Educators believe delving deeper into the histories of African Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans and Mexican Americans will pay off beyond the classroom.
“To make this overall a better nation, we have informed students — not only Black and Latino but White students — that we’ll create policies to ensure equity across American institutions,” said David Canton, Associate Professor of History at Connecticut College. “So, whether you become a police officer, a firefighter, HR, that you [have] the understanding of all populations in this country and to make better, informed decisions not based on racial stereotypes, but based on the curriculum you take in high school or you may take in college to make better decisions for everybody.”
Canton is part of the group designing a new, more diverse curriculum for Connecticut’s public schools — a deeper dive into the histories and contributions of various minority groups in America.
School districts will be allowed to offer the courses as electives a part of social studies in the fall. In 2021, the offerings are expected to be incorporated into the required coursework.
The principal at Waterbury Arts Magnet School (WAMS) said he’s excited about the change.
“This is what it’s all about,” Nick Albini said. “Educating, informing, showing the contributions and showing how important it is to learn about everyone’s culture.”