Cherry Hill School District to require African American history course next year
The Cherry Hill Board of Education has approved a new class inspired by student activists that will be required for students to take in order to graduate.
“When we first started this whole entire process, we never thought we would really get this far,” says Cherry Hill East High School senior Machayla Randall.
Randall says that the student activists were inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and asked for a school course on African American history – a request that was approved by the board.
“I think it is time to kind of open the conversation up in schools, because if not we’re leaving it up to the environment of students to teach them about things like race and sometimes it has negative effects and biases that are involved in that,” Randall says.
The course will be one semester long and will be taken by freshmen or sophomores starting in the fall of 2021. The district says that the course is still being developed and that educators are working with professors from different universities to create the curriculum.
"Because this is the first course of its kind, we have the opportunity to look beyond the content that is currently taught to students, which is the enslavement of people over hundreds of years and looking to involve more current cultural and historical events that are taking place,” says Assistant Superintendent Dr. Farrah Mahan.
Mahan says that she hopes that the course improves how students look at and treat their peers.
“For me, it’s for that, so when students of color and students who look like me walk into a classroom, that their counterparts are not looking at them through a marginalized or deficient perspective. And that they understand that everyone brings a great perspective and excellence into what they’re being thought in their classes,” Mahan says.
The course is currently being developed by the district with help from professors from universities such as Monmouth, Stockton and the University of Pennsylvania.