MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB)–The Jackson County School District is working hard to launch a new teaching initiative aimed at incorporating the contributions of African American’s into the classrooms year-round, not just during February. The new curriculum is called “American History 2.0”.
Byron Dickens has been working with Superintendent Larry Moore and the Commissioner of Educations African American History Task Force to bring the project to fruition.
“It’s to integrate African American history in our schools’ curriculum, in our social studies, and our American history as a focal point,” said Dickens, the Founder/President of Emancipation’s Day Festival of Northwest Florida.
Overtime, Dickens has noticed a disconnect between what children are being taught versus the area’s history.
“We say things like ‘land of the free, home of the brave’, well what does that mean? And where does it come from?” Dickens asks.
The African American History Task Force is responsible for overseeing the curriculum.
“If we’re serious about being the best state in education, then we are gonna have to be inclusive of all children,” said Donna Austin, a member of the Task Force.
Rather than only learn about African American history during February, students would learn about it concurrently with their other coursework. Both Dickens and Austin expect a smooth transition for teachers.
“If we’re talking about Thomas Edison’s invention of the lightbulb, to simply include Lewis Latimer’s invention of the filament,” Dickens said.
Taking this approach to teaching African American history is new for the Panhandle.
“This is something that’s brand new when you’re talking about the Northwest Florida region, the Panhandle region, so we have the potential to be the tip of the spear,” Dickens said.
Dickens says his goal is for the taskforce to recognize Jackson County as an Exemplary District.
The next step is to identify the teachers and administrators who will be implementing the new coursework. They will be able to attend the Commissioner of Educations African American History Task Force Workshop and then use their new knowledge to train their colleagues.
If all goes according to plan, they hope to introduce the curriculum in 2021 or 2022.