ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County students will experience a new history curriculum soon, as anti-racist lessons are incorporated into classes.
Dr. Shaun Nelms is the superintendent at East High. He said every district in the county is on board with anti-racist curriculum which has never happened before. Dr. Nelms said he’s always been bothered that certain parts of history, often about people of color, aren’t included in history books.
“I’ve always felt that without having units of study that reflect all Americans and students siting in front of you that were doing a great disservice to our American democracy,” Dr. Nelms said.
He said each district in the county sent two representatives to research and write the new curriculum. Local historians and national experts were also consulted.
“This is not about indoctrination, it’s not having us convincing kids how to think, but giving them free and comfortable spaces to have conversations about a myriad of topics that are important to them.”
Tiffany Porter is the founder of activist group Being Black in the Burbs. Her son is an eighth grader in the Fairport district.
“We’re gonna be sending out anti-racist kids into the world,” Porter said. “Right now we’re sending out kids with no anti-racist training and they’re not mandated to take it in higher education so sometimes they don’t get that training until their careers start, or never.”
Dr. Nelms said this isn’t the silver bullet to end racism but it’s a step in the right direction.
“I hope when my child and a child his same age at another district are at our age 20 years from now they’re having a more informed discussion about history,” he said. “I think it’s when we see Monroe County shift and change and have one mutual understanding and respect is when we’ll see the true impact of this project.”
Teachers who took part in writing the curriculum will begin a pilot program of it this spring. All other teachers will be trained this summer and fall to begin fully teaching it next spring.
The Fairport district has been teaching a different anti-racist curriculum through Pathstones since the summer. Dr. Nelms said this is more of an optional program, whereas the new program will be mandated across the county.