Connecticut to be first to require Black, Latinx study offerings to high school students

Governor Ned Lamont signed Public Act 19-12 in 2019 and the courses will be required beginning Fall 2022.

Governor Ned Lamont announced Connecticut will become the first state to require high school curriculums to offer Black and Latinx courses.

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The law was signed by Lamont in 2019 and according to a news release, high schools may begin to offer the course in the 2021-2022 school year and will be required to offer it during the Fall 2022-23 school year.

“Increasing the diversity of what we teach is critical to providing students with a better understanding of who we are as a society and where we are going,” the governor said in the memo. “Adding this course in our high schools will be an enormous benefit not only to our Black and Latino students but to students of all backgrounds because everyone can benefit from these studies. This is a step that is long overdue, and I applaud the work of the General Assembly, State Board of Education, and everyone at the State Education Resource Center whose collaborative work helped get this done.”

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Buses depart after dropping off students at Rippowam Middle School on September 14, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Public Act 19-12 was introduced by the education committee. Although Gov. Lamont signed the bill in 2019, it was not until last week when the Connecticut State Board of Education unanimously approved the curriculum for the course, the final step needed for the requirement. The elective course will provide “students with a better understanding of the African-American, Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino contributions to United States history, society, economy, and culture,” according to the release.

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“Identities matter, especially when 27% of our students identify as Hispanic or Latino and 13% identify as Black or African-American,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said in the statement. “This curriculum acknowledges that by connecting the story of people of color in the U.S. to the larger story of American history, the fact is that more inclusive, culturally relevant content in classrooms leads to greater student engagement and better outcomes for all.”

A 150-member team worked together to create and develop the curriculum. The advisory group included educators, administrators, higher education professors and scholars, national researchers and historians, representatives from education and community organizations, and studies and families. The large group was divided into multiple committees ranging from ‘Focus Groups,’ and ‘Research and Evaluation,’ to ‘Course Syllabus,’ and ‘African American/Black Content Development.’

“I am extremely proud of the passage of this bill,” said State Senator Douglas McCrory (D-Hartford), who sits as the co-chair of the Education Committee. “It was a humbling experience to hear students passionately call for the Black and Latino studies curriculum, and I thank them for it.”

A video explaining the process is available on the State Education Resource Center YouTube channel.

“Our coordination of this endeavor involved an advisory group of racially diverse, passionate, and committed individuals from across Connecticut and we have made history together because we passionately believed it could be done,” said SERC executive director Ingrid Canady. “Through challenges like the pandemic, the group never backed down because we knew that every single student in Connecticut needs to understand the history of people of color in the American story which has been denied by textbooks for too long.”

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