Students at Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville, Fla., staged a sit-in earlier this week demanding a change in the way African-American history is taught in Duval County Public Schools, Action News Jax reports.
The organizer of the sit-in, Angelina Roque, said that she and her other classmates wanted to protest because they believed that African-American history is a topic that deserves a full year of class time, which will in turn benefit all of their classmates. Students and their parents met with administrators Tuesday to discuss the topic.
According to Action News Jax, the course is currently offered only as a semester-long, or half-year, course.
Roque, a 10th-grader, told the news station that the protest was to “make them hear us, make them see us, make them listen to us.”
She was one of about 10 or so other students who called for a change.
“[The other students] risked being in trouble over a cause that we all truly think more people should be concerned about,” Roque said.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said that the students who raised the issue of the way the class is being taught will not be disciplined.
“Historically, Terry Parker and other high schools in Duval County has offered the course, but as a half-credit, not as a full credit … we will, and are certainly willing to offer it as a full-year course starting in the fall,” Vitti said. “I respect that students demonstrated self-advocacy and used their voice to signal concerns about their education. If there is student demand for a full-credit and yearlong African-American-history course, then we should and will provide it to students. We will work through the process of developing and offering that course.”
Action News Jax investigated how other neighboring school districts taught African-American history to compare. In Clay County, African-American history is currently offered as a half-credit, semester-long elective, the same as in Duval. In St. Johns County, schools offer a different course, African-American literature, which is a yearlong elective course.
“Being able to have a full course of African-American history … that will honestly make a big difference. It will help the cultural gap,” Roque said.
In order to have African-American history as a full-year course available to all students, school officials will have to work with the state and make sure that state standards, as well as staffing needs and costs, are being met.
However, first students have to put their request in writing, which Terry Parker’s are currently working on doing, according to Action News Jax.
Read more at Action News Jax.