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How are Pennsylvania schools honoring Black history and working to diversify the educator workforce?

  • Aniya Faulcon
In this May 20, 2010 photo, students use laptop computers in the classroom at the

 Matt Rourke / AP Photo

In this May 20, 2010 photo, students use laptop computers in the classroom at the "School of the Future" in Philadelphia.

February is Black History Month and, on The Spark, Tuesday we discussed Pennsylvania’s education system, how Pennsylvania educators are honoring Black history, and efforts to make the educator workforce more diverse within the state.

Rich Askey, Pennsylvania State Education Association president, said one of his organization’s primary goals is to address diversity, equity and inclusion, not only in their organization but in communities across Pennsylvania. Askey also said, they’ve sent out teaching materials so that schools can recognize Black history in a variety of subject areas.

Kizzy Nicholas, teacher and ethnic minority representative for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said Pennsylvania schools are broadening their definition of Black history, past the Civil Rights Movement and slavery in the United States. Nicholas, said Black history is American history.

“So we’re showing that African-American history isn’t just limited to two periods of struggle, but there are periods of joy, there are periods of celebration, there are periods of great discovery, rather than just boiling it down to one or two aspects of our history,” Nicholas said.

Not only are Pennsylvania school’s looking to broaden their definition of Black history but they are also working to embed Black history into Pennsylvania school curriculums, that will be taught throughout the year, and diversify the educator workforce with the support of different organizations.

According to the Learning Policy Institute, when students of color are taught by teachers of color, they have better academic performance, improved graduation results and they are more likely to go on to higher education.

“When you have a more diverse workforce, you have a wider ability to connect with students,” Nicholas said. “And what that does is that creates interest in our field, in science, in math. And when students are interested in the fields, then they want to learn. Then they’re going to put that extra effort into it when they can see how these topics relate to their lives…”


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