Black history course may become Cherry Hill graduation requirement
A requirement for all students to take African American history as a graduation requirement is under consideration by the Cherry Hill Board of Education for a potential vote in fall.
The idea was proposed by student members of the Cherry Hill East African American Culture Club following a demonstration they organized in June supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
"They spoke specifically to the teaching of Black history not from a marginalized and oppressive state but to highlight the relevance, beauty and power of Black history and the infusion of Black history across our curriculum," Farrah Mahan, the district curriculum director, said during a special board meeting on July 14.
Mahan pointed out that the district already offers an optional African American studies course through a partnership with Stockton University.
The idea was supported by board members but concern was raised over the logistics of adding another requirement on top those already mandated by the state.
"I'm not opposed to to the requirement. I just want to make sure that we're not putting more on our students than they can manage," Kimberly Friddell said, adding that she favored integrating the lessons taught during Black History Month throughout the year.
The students would also like a social justice course as part of the curriculum to run from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Superintendent Joseph Meloche told Fox 29 on Wednesday that he marched with the students and heard their message.
Meloche on Wednesday afternoon did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.
Students in New Jersey must already have 120 credits, according to the state Department of Education:
- English language (20 credits)
- Math (15 credits)
- Science (15 credits with five each in biology/life science, lab-based science such as chemistry and a lab-based science course
- Social students (15 credits with five each in world history and an integration of civics, economics, geography and global content in all course offerings)
- Financial, economic business and entrepreneurial business literacy (2.5 credits)
- Health safety and physical education, visual and performing arts (15 credits over four years)
- World languages (5 credits)
- Technology (integrated throughout all courses)
- 21st century life and careers (5 credits)
Local districts may add to the state requirements.