JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Over the past week, student-run protests across Duval County have caught the attention of district leaders. Their message is clear: More Black history needs to be taught inside the classroom.
The district said its social studies team has spent the past couple of years reviewing all middle and high school course offerings to align the teaching of African and African American history. Plus, officials added change is in the works with its African American Task Force.
“We've been soliciting feedback from students about their educational experiences, and working with local historical sites and groups to provide content training to teachers and identify resources to enhance instruction," district social studies specialist TiLena Robinson said.
However, the task force member admitted that there’s still more work to be done.
“I think we just want to ensure that African and African American history are embedded in curriculum," Robinson explained. "And not only is it embedded, but it is strictly accurate and it is actually being implemented with fidelity.”
One of the next areas the task force is tackling is developing lessons, activities and resources on African and African American history into its K-5 curriculum, and finding ways to include it outside of social studies courses at all grade levels.
"Going forward, we're adding more African American History into other content areas," Robinson added. "And we're focusing more on local history.“
For example, in English Language Arts classes, she said the task forces wants to integrate more literature from diverse authors and literature that provides students with information about diverse cultures.
District social studies supervisor and member Erin Conklin said the task force, created last year, includes district leaders, teachers, university partners, community members, parents and students.
“We've had several student leaders that have been on our task force," Conklin said. "I know one student leader did have a diversity round table that was held at the beginning of the year. It provided great information for our task force and being able to see where we are having some gaps in the instruction."
The next task force meeting will be held virtually next Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6:00 p.m. Conklin encourages anyone who’s interested in joining the group to login.
This story will be updated with the task force meeting link to when Duval County Public Schools provides the information to First Coast News.