The Proviso Township High School District 209 board voted to adopt a Black history textbook and curriculum at its June 8 meeting. The recommendation to contract with Black History 365 (BH 365) for a total cost of $303,780 for textbooks and digital licenses was presented by Dr. Nicole Howard, assistant superintendent of academics and student services.
An advisory council formed in February and comprised of board members, community representation, administrators and teachers, was charged with “making program, curriculum, and policy recommendations to address issues of inequity,” according to an action item on the meeting agenda.
The advisory council came up with a list of what they wanted to see in a textbook.
“They want our students to understand that there is a huge impact with Black people, civilization and culture over time,” said Howard during the meeting. “It’s not just about slavery. We want to reframe that discourse. And we want to make sure they understand that Black history did not start here.”
“The Black History 365 curriculum is informed by a collection of more than 3,000 documents and artifacts […] owned by The Freeman Institute Black History collection,” according to the Black History 365 website, which includes Madam C.J. Walker’s hair products among the artifacts.
Understanding the structural impact of bias and discrimination and a thorough history from multiple perspectives with real stories were other aspects of Black history that the council listed as important.
The council also wanted a “variety of thought and perspective, including research and evidence-based information,” a sensitive and modern collection of photos, and questions to provoke and encourage independent thinking to promote “appropriate and meaningful social action.”