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State Board of Education approves African American studies course that will include history of convict leasing, Sugar Land 95 (4/24/2020)

Fort Bend ISD planning to offer elective course beginning in 2020-21 school year


FORT BEND ISD (April 24, 2020) - The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) has approved an African American studies course for high school students, to be first offered in the 2020-21 school year. The elective course was unanimously approved by the SBOE last week, and will be the second ethnic studies course available to all Texas high school students.


The course curriculum and its corresponding TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) will include information regarding convict leasing in the state and the Sugar Land 95. Chassidy Olainu-Alade, FBISD Coordinator of Community and Civic Engagement, developed the state TEKS for the important piece of history after presenting research on the discovery of the historic cemetery to SBOE Representative Pat Hardy. She was also asked to provide guidance on a draft amendment for the course by SBOE Representative Aicha Davis. The standard reads, “Students will explain the impact of the convict leasing system on African Americans, including the Sugar Land 95.”


"This journey has been a truly exciting and honorable experience. I've had the opportunity to be a part of the memorialization and education efforts of the District for the past two years," says Olainu-Alade. "As I've stated many times, this is only the beginning. We are committed to ensuring that the Sugar Land 95 and others impacted by the convict leasing system earn their rightful place in history."


In addition to working with SBOE representatives, Olainu-Alade has also presented to social studies educators across the state, sharing more about the convict leasing system and its impact on local, state and national history. FBISD will be creating and providing instructional resources related to the Sugar Land 95 to other state districts, as part of the coursework.


“I am proud to say that the Sugar Land 95 will be appropriately recognized and honored as students across Texas learn this important part of history,” said Fort Bend ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Dupre.


“This has been an unexpected journey for Fort Bend ISD, and we have remained committed to honoring the Sugar Land 95 by ensuring that future generations are aware of this important piece of local history. Now, the approval of this course will benefit not only our students, but students across the state.”


Olainu-Alade and FBISD staff will develop a local curriculum for the course, with the intention to offer the course to District students during the next school year. The course will be offered as an elective for .5 credits.