▶️ Prineville mother frustrated with limited curriculum on Black History Month

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

What did you learn today?

That’s a question Prineville resident Amber Vandenack asks her 6th grade daughter every day after school.

But it’s what the 11-year-old Crook County Middle School student, who is black, wasn’t mentioning that stood out to Vandenack.

“Well, did you learn anything about Black History? Because it was February 1st the first day I asked,” Vandenack said. “She was like no, and I put it off a little bit. I said okay it’s only the first day, let’s give it a week and see how it goes.”

A week went by, Vandenack’s daughter still reported back nothing.

Vandenack then called the school and the superintendent, she was told that Black History Month is not part of the school’s curriculum and it’s up to teachers whether to discuss it.

“I was mad,” Vandenack said. “I cussed a few times.”

According to Jason Carr with the Crook County School District, students do learn about Black History.

“It is something that is covered,” Carr said. “It is something that we believe is important.”

However, there is not a single month of the curriculum devoted to Black History Month.

Assistant principal Marques Hase says this is because Crook County Middle School takes a “holistic” approach to Black history, incorporating it into lessons throughout the entire school year.

“We focus on Black History throughout the content throughout the year,” Marques Hase, assistant principal said. “Not specifically just Black History Month, just throughout the year.”

Vandenack says what frustrates her the most is that slavery and segregation is the bulk of the black history her daughter is learning.

“It breaks my heart that my daughter only hears the bad,” Vandenack said. “Doesn’t hear about the good things that African American and black people do.”

Since our conversation with Vandenack, she spoke with school district curriculum director Stacy Smith.

Smith is hoping the school district can find unique ways to celebrate Black History Month with more positive content.

“The school district is happy to partner with the family and weave in additional lessons that meet the request,” Carr said. “We value the opportunity to have an open conversation with our parents to ensure our schools are a welcoming and positive place for all of our students of color.”

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