Black Studies Classes
Summary: The Teaching and Learning team worked with educators across the district to diversify its course offerings.
Black Studies classes available for 2022-23
It is early in the morning, but Letta Mason’s students are logged in and ready to learn. Mason teaches a virtual Black Studies class during period 0, before school begins (and another section after school). The small group of students are thirsty for knowledge, diving into topics like Black economics, music and religion.
Mason is the SPS curriculum specialist who helped build the Black studies courses. She is working with other educators to implement the courses and build curriculum across schools. But as middle and high school students begin to build their schedules for the 2022-23 school year, they may not be aware of the ethnic and Black studies classes SPS has to offer.
Mason, who piloted the Black studies history class for 11th graders, was excited about the level of engagement she received from her students. The classes are strongly encouraged for Black and Brown students, but all students are invited to sign up. Mason said her classes were a good mix of students from all racial identities, languages, and genders.
“It is phenomenal to work on this,” Mason said. “Students had an openness to … share their thoughts and to unlearn things they already had stored away in their brains from past teachers and parents and community and what they had seen in the media. It was exciting to be in the classroom.”
Black Studies U.S. History 11 was the first course of this new Black Education Program and focused on the Black and African American experience from a national and global perspective. The course meets 11th grade graduation requirements and is designed to engage students in the study of the seven core areas of Black studies: Black history, Black sociology, Black religion, Black economics, Black politics, Black psychology, humanities (Black literature, art, and music). The class was created in direct response to student demands for relevant, meaningful education. The course creates a safe space not only for scholars, but also families to share their personal experiences with discrimination and systemic racism in America.
Despite the small numbers, Mason is pleased with the direction of the Black studies classes. The first semester was used as a pilot for the class. Now, district leaders are working hard to make sure the classes will be sustainable by training educators and building curriculum.
More information about Black or ethnic studies course offerings will be available in April.