History books are typically full of information, but some say there are gaps.
Vermont lawmakers are hoping to fix this by including an ethnic studies curriculum in Vermont elementary and high schools.
“To include marginalized groups in history is what should be taught and right now that is excluded,” said Brenda Churchill, LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont.
The hope is to better educate students about people from different ethnic or social backgrounds and their contributions to society.
“What happened in 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma? The usual response from folks is ‘I don’t know’,” said Rep. Kevin ‘Coach’ Christie, a Democrat from Windsor and one of four sponsors of the bill. “It was one of the most racially charged massacres that occurred on US soil.”
The House Committee on Education has been hearing testimony on the matter this week, and supporters say it would bring more inclusiveness to the classroom.
“It’s not just about the history, but about the contributions and showing the perspective not of one victim hood but one of empowerment,” said Amanda Graces, Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools.
Former Rep. Kiah Morris of Bennington championed the bill last year, but later resigned after facing racially motivated harassment.
Christie says that, following Morris’ resignation, the issue is even more pressing.
“With an energized focus, I think we’ll be able to get it across the finish line,” he said.
If passed, the bill would also create a group or board that would collect data from Vermont schools pertaining to any harassment, bullying or hazing in an effort to diminish discrimination in the state.