As the Cedar Rapids Community School District continues to work to offer courses and content that is more representative of students, two new high school elective courses are being offered for the 2017-2018 school year. The courses are African American Literature and Culture, which offers English Language Arts elective credit; and African American History, which offers Social Studies elective credit. The credit earned for these courses will apply toward the required elective credits needed for graduation. Teachers of these courses are working with community leaders from diverse backgrounds to ensure the classes complement each other in providing students the opportunity to explore African American history, literature, and culture.
The electives will include the era of the nation’s founding up to the present, taking into account historical, cultural, socio-political, and literacy contexts. While the two courses offer a spotlight on African American literature and history, the District has been intentional about incorporating additional diverse resources into all course offerings.
“We have made progress in this area in recent years and remain committed to this work,” said Dr. Brad Buck, Superintendent. “This is part of the District’s dedication to providing our students with choices that better reflect their personal interests, backgrounds, and experiences, while meeting necessary graduation requirements.”
The new language arts offering falls into the elective category with other semester long English Language Arts courses. The District is working to develop a more extensive menu of semester-length options for 2018-19, with a plan to transition them from elective credit to content specific graduation credit courses based on student interest.
“We might have held this course until we had built a complete menu of course options but there was terrific enthusiasm to bring this course to students right away,” said Karla Ries, Director of Instruction. “So we’re launching it in the fall.”