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Senate committee discusses what students should learn in school about Black history

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Thursday, October 8, 2020  |  Article  |  By Kevin Bessler | The Center Square

Education--Elementary and Secondary (36) Ford, La Shawn--State House, 8

(The Center Square) – The content of history and social studies classes was scrutinized during a Senate Education and Higher Education Joint Committee Wednesday.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford, who earlier this year called for the state to abolish history classes throughout the state, said what schools are teaching now does nothing to foster a more inclusive society and leads to white privilege.

“It is my belief that we get history right in the state of Illinois,” Ford said. “Not only do we teach black history properly but we teach all history properly in the sate of Illinois.”

In March, Ford introduced a measure that would have mandated all Illinois schools teach children Black history, including the American Civil Rights movement from 1954-1965 and the study of pre-enslavement history.

Since 1991, Illinois has required every public elementary and high school to include a unit of instruction studying Black history. The teaching must include contributions of African Americans, the development of the United States and Africa, and the struggle for equal treatment under the law.

President Donald Trump recently threatened funding to California schools that teach the “1619 Project,” which the New York Times says "aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the national narrative.

Trump has vowed to counter what he called an emerging classroom narrative that “America is a wicked and racist nation” and he said he would create a new “1776 Commission” to help restore patriotic education to our schools.

Ford likened the history currently being taught in Illinois schools to poisoning students.

“We would not want our kids to drink lead water because we know it would harm them, therefore we should not allow our students whether they are Black, white or brown to be learning history that is not inclusive and is biased,” Ford sa