Friday, June 10, 2005

Philadelphia Schools Will Require African Studies
Philadelphia Schools Will Require African Studies

PHILADELPHIA -- In what could be a first in the United States, the Philadelphia school system will soon require that all high school students take a year of African and African American studies.

Leaders of the school district, where two-thirds of the students are black, hope the course will not only keep those students interested in their academic work but also give others a more accurate view of history.

"We have the opportunity . . . to do something under our watch that is really going to do right by our students, to say, 'We've come from some pretty great places,' " Assistant Superintendent Cecilia Cannon said.

The course, now offered as an elective at 11 of the city's 54 high schools, covers topics including classical African civilizations, civil rights and black nationalism, and teachers say it has captivated students.

Education groups said they did not know of other districts that require black studies, now a high-profile academic field at universities such as Harvard and Cornell.