Students protest, holding signs.
Three teachers at the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science charter school who claimed they were about to be terminated because they wanted to teach more Black history, resigned officially on Jan. 27.
The school’s board of directors issued a statement verifying the resignations, but they denied the allegations that the teachers were blocked from teaching Black history.
“The teaching of African and African-American history and culture was not a factor in the acceptance of the resignations. This curriculum includes a content strand centered on an enduring understanding of African cultural systems,” the statement read.
The board also defended the school’s chief academic officer Angelicque Blackmon, who has been criticized for how she has handled the controversy. Blackmon, who was “recruited to Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science through a national search, has a long track record of engaging African American students and teachers in culturally responsive STEM education.”
Adilah Bilal, president of Parents in Action, a parent group at the school, told the Washington Post the social studies teachers had told the group they were planning to resign. The teachers, she said, were upset the administration stymied their efforts to include more African history in a curriculum that focuses heavily on Greek and Roman history.
Bilal said parents had planned to engage a mediator to help hammer out a solution, but before they could, the teachers were given termination papers in front of students, making them leave in the middle of the school day.
On Feb. 2, about two dozen of the 300 students at the middle school walked out in protest, waving pan-African flags and holding signs. Some shared a list of demands, including “new social studies teachers … who will be treated with respect” and that the school “stop tracking students for school to prison pipeline,” according to NPR.