Waterbury community group works to implement more African American, Latino history in public schools

Education

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A community group in Waterbury is working to enhance the public school curriculum with more in-depth African American and Latino history.

Warren Leach is the Director of the group pushing for the change: The Ungroup Society.

Leach says that the group’s motivation came from feeling “that their accurate history is not being addressed.”

Leach believes it’s a problem across the state. He was pleased to see the Connecticut General Assembly pass a bill earlier this year mandating African-American History as part of a social studies curriculum in state public schools by 2021.

Waterbury is one of the cities in Connecticut that has a high rate of students of color. One Board of Education member says the figure is at least 75%. So Leach and his group felt there was a definite need in Waterbury.

They enlisted the help of high school teacher Kelly Hope to devise a curriculum they could propose to the Waterbury Board of Ed.

Her lesson plan consists of more in-depth examination of African-American and Latino history, literature, and sociology.

Kelly hopes that by including these more diverse offerings it will give students the opportunity to think critically about issues in society that directly impact them and their environment.

“It looks at Black and Latino cultures and the contributions to society and the ways in which authors and politicians and also soldiers — folks in our Armed Forces — how they have contributed to the landscape that is what we know to be the United States of America.

– Kelly Hope, high school teacher

Hope and the Ungroup Society tested the curriculum over an 8-week period with classes involving kids in the community who attend their community functions.

“We did an eight-week session that focused on the slave trade, but it went back even further than that.

Part of our goal was to make sure that young people understood that they come from one of the great civilizations of the world — that their history on this planet did not begin with slavery.

We were not born salves we were an enslaved people.”

– Warren Leach

Leach says feedback from the kids was positive.

“They learned a whole lot of things that they were never taught before,” Leach said.

The Waterbury Board of Ed is in the early stages of looking over the curriculum, but the Vice President of the Board says she’s impressed and feels something like this is long overdue.

“I was so enthusiastic, so happy that they came forward with this,” said Karen Harvey, VP of the Waterbury Board of Ed.

Waterbury hopes to start a pilot program of this new curriculum next year, however, there are still more discussions to be had before they choose any lesson plans, including the one offered up by the Ungroup Society.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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