CMS parent concerned about omission of Black History in language arts class

Learning Black history in Charlotte schools

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Community leader Dee Rankin is concerned the stories of African-Americans are not being shared in certain Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) classrooms.

The CMS Equity Committee member and Education Chair of the Charlotte Black Political Caucus met with school leaders about the new Language Arts curriculum for 7th and 8th graders. He left the meeting disappointed.

“The lessons that are bring omitted are specific,” Rankin said. “Very important areas in African-American history - such as the narratives of Frederick Douglas, The Little Rock Nine, Civil Rights - these things are bring omitted from the language arts curriculum at such a time as this.”

Rankin who is also a father of an 8th grader said CMS leaders gave several reasons for not engaging middle school students in those important topics.

One reason CMS gave was the district was concerned those stories could trigger students. Another reason is leaders think remote learning may not be the best way to discuss and teach the material.

“If they really want to be serious about equity,” Rankin said. “And improving our students here when it comes to some of the racial relationships and social injustice relationships - it has to be intentional.”

Despite the fact CMS is recommending to omit certain parts of history, teachers can go out on their own and still teach the material.

“Yes a teacher can choose to use The Little Rock Nine or the narratives of Frederick Douglas if they so choose,” Rankin said. “But one school may do it and another school may not and that’s where we have the issues - that’s where the gaps continue to grow.”

Rankin says he will continue to press CMS to change its mind. He worries the message the district is sending to students in middle school by not requiring reading and writing on diverse topics.

“It’s almost like you are trying to purposefully not talk about race,” Rankin said. “And act like it’s not there, but we have to be intentional - especially with our kids. They are so impressionable now - so history won’t repeat itself.”

CMS is also not recommending stories about the Holocaust and Japanese American Relations during World War II in the 7th and 8th graders Language Arts curriculum. The school district says these subjects can be included in the Social Studies curriculum.

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