NY State Legislature again delves into racism lessons in schools





A politically appointed state panel will examine whether slavery and the "physical and psychological terrorism" against Africans in the slave trade is adequately taught in schools and textbooks.

The panel called the Amistad Commission was approved by the Legislature and signed into law last week by Gov. George Pataki. It is charged with recommending to the Legislature and governor changes in curriculum and textbooks, which because of New York's buying power could influence texts used in other states, according to the National Council for the Social Studies. The panel could also recommend state-sponsored educational programs on slavery and racism, and training for teachers.

The commission is named for the slave ship Amistad that was commandeered by the slaves it carried. They eventually won their freedom in U.S. Supreme Court.

Such lessons are critical for all students to understand American history and the role of slaves and black Americans in it, supporters say.

Other states have sought public input in recent years to include international studies and "financial literacy" in schools, said Peggy Altoff, president-elect of the national council and a social studies facilitator in Colorado Springs.

She said the goal of the commission is laudable, but said educators on the panel should be part of any panel recommending changes to make sure they'll work.



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