BOWIE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Prince George’s County school board members are calling for changes to the way black history is taught in the district.
Board Vice-Chair Edward Burroughs says the district needs to examine the kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum to identify deficiencies and inaccuracies and look at adding a black and brown history course as a graduation requirement.
“Prince George’s County is the most affluent majority African-American community in the nation,” said Burroughs in a letter to CEO Dr. Monica Goldson. “Our school district is composed of over 80% students of color. As a school system, we have a moral and ethical responsibility to teach accurate, authentic, and unadulterated Black and Brown history.”
Burroughs said the school board budget committee backed the initiative in a meeting Monday. He said there could be changes as early as the next school year, though an extensive curriculum review will be time-consuming.
FOX 5 spoke to PGCPS history teacher Sheena Washington who agrees that change is needed.
“The purpose of education is really to empower young people,” Washington said. “It’s difficult to do that when students don’t see themselves represented in the curriculum and represented in the content.”
Washington and Burroughs said Juneteenth and the 1921 destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa are two examples of historical events that are not covered.
“They need to be, absolutely,” said Washington. “There’s a lot that needs to be added to our curriculum.”
A PGCPS spokeswoman said the district had no comment on the calls for change, adding that Juneteenth is taught in an African-American history elective course and the Tulsa massacre is part of “supplemental materials” for history teachers.
“This is due to us being required to follow the history curriculum put forward by the state of Maryland,” said spokeswoman Gabrielle Brown in an email.
Educators across the country are re-examining how black history is taught in schools amid protests over police brutality and racial inequality.
Student board member Joshua Omolola, a recent graduate, said now more than ever, it’s important for students to learn their history.
“Being in a public school, you should have access and you should be taught especially your history,” said Omolola. “Especially in a county like Prince George’s County that is majority African-American.”