Councilmembers Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) and Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), co-chairs of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, announced last week at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Manhattan that a $10 million pilot project, the Education Equity Action Plan, will launch in select schools in the second quarter of 2022.
The EEAP is a citywide kindergarten-to-high school Black studies curriculum formed by legislators, nonprofits and Black education advocacy groups that the Department of Education will implement. It aims to address pre-existing, fundamental racial inequities in access to quality education for scholars of color and to foster positive educational experiences, according to Adams’ office, and was adopted into the Big Apple’s 2022 fiscal budget in June.
“New York City students need to see their identities, histories, and communities reflected in their educational experiences,” said Adams in a statement. “For far too long, Black students in particular have not had access to a curriculum where they can learn about the contributions and impact of peoples of the African diaspora.”
The interdisciplinary syllabus will focus on early African civilizations, the Black experience in America, the contributions of the Black diaspora, race and power dynamics, and the adverse social effects of systemic and institutional racism while providing a professional development program to support teachers and administrators to ensure the effective application of the course.
“In the creation of a Black history and contributions curriculum for our K-12 schools, we ensure that every single [New York City] student can benefit from understanding the richness of Black history, which is American history,” Marielys Divanne, vice president of education at the nonprofit United Way of New York City, said in a statement. “We also know that a culturally relevant curriculum that helps children identify with their history and inspires them to pursue a successful future is essential for their pathway to success. This is a major step forward and, thanks to this effort, all of society will benefit.”
Dr. Shango Blake, the former principal of Jean Nuzzi Intermediate School 109 in Queens Village and president of Black Edfluencers-United, a Black education advocacy group, agreed with Divanne.
“For too long, our nation’s true history has been misrepresented in our classrooms, leaving our youth in the dark about who we really are,” said Blake in a statement. “It’s time that we teach every child about the contributions Black people have made and continue to make in this country. By sharing our true history, we can inspire our youth to dream bigger, and shape their communities for the better, as their ancestors did.”
United Way was allocated $3.4 million; BE-U $50,000; The Eagle Academy Foundation, a sixth-to-12th-grade college preparatory organization, $3.2 million; the Black Education Research Collective at the Teachers College of Columbia University $3.25 million; and the Association of Black Educators of New York $50,000 from the EEAP fund for collaborating on the curriculum and to help the DOE implement the program in 2022.
“A rigorous curriculum that truly connects to who students are and the communities they come from is critical to their engagement in the classroom and in their learning,” said city Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter, a Far Rockaway native who was raised in South Jamaica, in a statement. “The Education Equity Action Plan furthers our goal to provide high-quality and culturally responsive resources for all our schools and we look forward to working in partnership with all involved as it’s developed.”
Details surrounding specific topics and the program’s impact on the wider education system remain tentative as the commission for EEAP is still in its formative stage, according to Adams’ spokesman.