Breaking News: NAACP Resolution Decries Representation of African Americans in textbooks, courses and standards

The NAACP has a new resolution speaking out against the problematic representation of African Americans in our education system.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization. It was formed in 1909 as a “bi-racial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans.” My Great Grandma Z. Louise Scott was an NAACP member and heard the MLK’s “I have a dream Speech” in Detroit and later at the March on Washingon. You know what they say, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

I was honored to travel to Dallas this past week to present at the Texas NAACP state conference at their yearly education workshop.

Upon arriving at the NAACP convention, I immediately ran into Gary Bledsoe, Texas NAACP President. He asked me to work with Victor Goode, Interim National NAACP Education Chair, and the conference education workshop attendees to craft a Texas NAACP resolution calling for empowering and historically accurate representation of African Americans in textbooks, courses and standards. I was honored to participate in this process and to help craft the new resolution. Here is what the Texas convention delegates voted into policy.

WHEREAS, the Texas NAACP is the state’s vanguard for education and civil rights.

WHEREAS, as our society evolves in coming years, a future-forward vision for
education explores the opportunity and challenges in making knowledge about all
communities in our nation more accessible and accurate.

WHEREAS, the challenge in Texas is that peer reviewed research has shown that the
textbooks, courses and standards have in many ways historically excluded communities of color.

WHEREAS, research by professors from the University of Texas at Austin has analyzed the Texas standards and textbooks and found that communities of color have been often excluded and sometimes misrepresented in the curriculum and textbooks.

WHEREAS, considering the growing diversity in Texas this has been a travesty because the most recent research on African American studies has shown incredibly positive benefits for student success.

WHEREAS, research data from Stanford University recently showed that high school
classes including African American studies have reduced dropout rates, raised graduation rates, reduced unexcused absences, boosted self-esteem, raised self-efficacy, increased academic engagement, and raised personal empowerment.

WHEREAS, districts across the United States are recognizing the positive impacts of
African American studies on students from all backgrounds. Many have passed
resolutions requiring students to take an ethnic studies class.

WHEREAS, the Houston Independent School District, Dallas Independent School
District and others have confirmed the importance of ethnic studies courses for student success.

WHEREAS, Texas students, educators, and other stakeholders have provided many
examples and reasons in their comments to support African American studies.

WHEREAS, the National NAACP is on record demanding an examination of school
history textbooks for omissions, distortions, bias, and insufficient coverage of the
contributions of Africans and African Americans in America, with an emphasis on the antebellum period; and all school history texts should give an accurate account of the contributions of African Americans, in all fields of endeavor, to the settlement, growth, and development of this country.

WHEREAS, the TEKS review process and the Instructional Materials Review and
Adoption Process provides opportunities for the Texas State Board of Education
(SBOE) to “get it right” with respect to textbooks and other instructional materials.

WHEREAS, the SBOE should request reviews to be conducted by expert academics todetermine the appropriateness and historical accuracy of state standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), including state social studies standards.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Texas NAACP will support efforts that
are empowering and historically accurate representation of African Americans in Texas textbooks, courses, and standards for every Texan.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Texas NAACP will encourage the unit Education Chairs to develop and participate in community-based Saturday schools to engage and fill the gaps about African Americans in the state of Texas curriculum.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Texas NAACP and its units will commit to
calling for the rejection of all textbooks and instructional materials that are historically inaccurate and/or cloak racist intent.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, the Texas NAACP and its units will support Texas State Board of Education members who advocate for a statewide African American studies course and commit to supporting all school districts who wish to implement an African American studies course.

My work with the NAACP began in Texas about ten years ago when Gary Bledsoe filed a complaint with the US Department of Education about the problematic representation of African Americans in the state social studies standards. At the time, the Obama administration refused to weigh in. However, the collaboration with Gary and the Texas NAACP inspired our article Illuision of Inclusion that was published in the Harvard Education Review. Six years ago I “blogged” about the article here. As you can see, my blogging has come a long way from the early days. Since all the links are now broken from that post, check out the article on my academia.edu page here.

I asked President Gary Bledsoe to weigh in on the new resolution. He said,

It is our hope to put all citizens of good will on notice that we will be seeking important and holistic changes in Texas’ k-12 education system to try as much as possible to eliminate institutionalized bias and discrimination. One way we are attempting this is to continue and support that proper education be taught about our many varied and diverse groups—including a change that will require the teaching of African-American history. This change will help to address the miseducation of Texas Public School students on history, race, ethnicity, the contributions of women in our State and other related issues. Further, it is important to properly depict history and we have not done so in Texas. As Black Klansman Ron Stallworth said to our convention on Friday, it is simply not defensible to consider the Black Panthers a terrorist organization and not so consider the Klan.

Thank you Texas NAACP for standing up and speaking out for all children and demanding an empowering and historically accurate representation of African Americans in textbooks, courses and standards.

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Other news: I arrived at the NAACP convention directly from an NEA Foundation #NEAFPromise event— which was a collection of incredible inspiring stories about education. Check out the hashtag.

 

 

 

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5 comments

  • Julian, I think you know that on April 11, 2018, the NACCS Tejas Foco committee was victorious in establishing African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Native American Studies, and Mexican American Studies (though it originally had a horrible name, as you might recall) There’s support for this on the Texas State Board of Education so if they’ve not done so, the African American community @G_bledsoe needs to reach out to SBOE member Lawrence Allen, I would say, for next steps. Standards-setting and rules would follow.

    Like

  • Glad to hear this news! We must all be represented truthfully. Teachers must also be introduced to the approach of teaching in a culturally relevant way. Learning about prominent people of color is a start. Check out http://www.womenwhocount.net

    Like

  • A quick question: How should Native Americans, the most underserved, marginalized and “invisible”demographic group in America, go about securing a similar resolution calling for empowering and historically accurate representation of Native Americans in textbooks, courses, and standards? Just wondering what you would suggest…thank you!

    Like

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