Board of Education Approves K-12 Black Studies Curriculum
San Francisco (October 20, 2020) - The San Francisco Board of Education approved the development of a K-12 Black Studies framework and curriculum, providing an opportunity for every SFUSD student to engage in Black Studies by school year 2022-2023. The resolution to create the curriculum that “honors Black lives, fully represents the contributions of Black people in global society, and advances the ideology of Black liberation for Black scholars” was authored by Commissioner Stevon Cook.
The Black Studies curriculum will include University of California a-g approved courses for SFUSD high schools and required unit plans for grades PK-8 that introduce students to the concept of race, racial identity, African and African American history, equity, and systemic racism. There would be at least three “a” courses: one on African history, culture, and geographies; one on African diasporic studies; and another on African American history and phases of African American resistance. At least one “b” course would be focused on classic and modern African, African American, and diasporic literature while at least one “g” course would be youth-driven in curriculum development and implementation.
“The Euro-centric focus of the American education system and other American institutions has perpetually framed the history of Black people in America as either enslaved, discriminated against, or suffering under the social-ills of poor health, poverty and over-incarceration,” said Commissioner Stevon Cook. “The broader impact of African innovations such as math, science, engineering, sea exploration and astrology that informed much of western civilization has never been sufficiently taught to students in traditional public schools.”
The resolution calls on the Superintendent to secure participation from the San Francisco State University Africana Studies Department and the Stanford-SFUSD partnership to sit on an advisory committee to help guide design and development of the curriculum, as well as participation from longstanding organizations focused on advancing the Black community such as the Human Rights Commission, San Francisco NAACP, and Alliance of Black School Educators.
The Board of Education also recommends that the Superintendent generates a Black Studies fund of at least $15 million annually to fully fund this effort – including but not limited to curriculum development, staff to administer the program, and educators to teach the curriculum – so that school sites do not need to draw resources from their site-allocated budgets to implement the Black Studies curriculum.
The commitment to expand Black Studies at SFUSD is grounded in several principles, including a collectivist process that elevates local Black voices in order to create a framework and curriculum that highlights the Black San Franciscan experience; increasing Black employment and Black contracts through the development and implementation of the curriculum; and benefits to all students because Black history provides a counternarrative to the dominant, often deceptive, Eurocentric telling of history.
“This country was built by a lot of incredible people. My ancestors were among the founders of this country. This is about telling a more full history of this country,” said Commissioner Cook.
The San Francisco Board of Education has passed previous resolutions to support culturally responsive instruction and curriculum for African American students, including a 2014 resolution to institutionalize Ethnic Studies; a 2015 resolution in support of expanded and targeted programming for African American students; and a 2019 Equity Studies resolution centering on decolonizing and anti-oppressive pedagogy and a humanizing framework for teaching students. A 2016 Stanford Graduate School of Education study demonstrated that SFUSD’s implementation of Ethnic Studies boosted attendance and academic performance for students at risk of dropping out in high school.
Read the full resolution here.