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The Student News Website of Francis Howell North High School.

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Francis Howell Board of Education Faces Backlash After Removing Black-Focused Electives at Dec. 21 Board Meeting

Members+of+the+Francis+Howell+community+hold+up+signs+of+disapproval+towards+the+school+board+at+the+Dec.+21+board+of+education+meeting.
Credit to Eashaan Patel
Members of the Francis Howell community hold up signs of disapproval towards the school board at the Dec. 21 board of education meeting.

At the Dec. 21 board meeting, the Francis Howell Board of Education decided to remove the Black Literature and Black History electives in a 5-2 vote. 

Community backlash ensued as members of the Francis Howell community felt progress that was made when the classes were instated in 2021 had been rescinded. Petitions were created and protests have been planned to showcase the community’s frustration with this decision. Former board member Michelle Walker who was a part of the board when the classes were added, has been very vocal about her disapproval of the removals.

“This new board is sending a very clear message to our minority students that, while the previous board had promised to listen and learn, we don’t want to hear anything about your history or your literature,” Walker said. “It was the first time our black and brown students could say ‘Hey there’s a class for me and for others to learn about my culture and race’ so removing it is just a massive step backwards for our community.”

Many members of the community were outraged since the removal wasn’t put onto the board meetings key talking points until less than 24 hours before the meeting began. With these classes being electives, which makes them non-requirements to graduate, it has left many people confused on why its removal was a concern to the board in the first place. President of the St. Charles NAACP district Zebrina Looney viewed this decision as a coordinated plan from the board to minimize backlash.

 “They 100% kept this off the agenda until the very last minute in hopes that it would be swept under the rug and go relatively unnoticed,” Looney said. “Where is the supposed updated ‘Racism Resolution’ that they promised earlier this year? This board continues to showcase how little they care about the minority members of their community and we need to as a collective community rise up and show them that they can’t continue to get away with this.” 

Board member Randy Cook has yet to respond to an interview request, however he has since come out to state that the board does not object to teaching classes like black literature in a public statement via email. However, they do object to the current way they believe they are being taught, that being through a social justice framework. The board believes that with some re-tweaking these classes could be redeveloped and brought to the board for approval in the future. Many members of the community feel as if this explanation is disingenuous and that the board has no real plans to revisit this in the future. 

“You’re telling me that an all white board is telling black and brown students like myself that they know what’s best for a class that teaches my culture?” FHN alumna Mya Walker said. “I left the district my junior year due to the intense amount of racism I faced and when I saw that there was a class for students like myself I was overjoyed. This is so disappointing as a big sister of children who will go to North. I’m just so sad for them and my community.”

Community leaders from all around the St. Charles area have come together to show their support for students who feel upset and unseen by this decision.  NAACP treasurer Kimberly Thompson is one of those leaders who’s been actively striving for a Francis Howell community that allows for all students to feel represented by their schools curriculum.

“I don’t believe that this decision is an accurate representation of the St. Charles community at all as I believe that we’re by and large not a racist community,” Thompson said. “We’re going to fight and we aren’t going to be quiet and if the NAACP can support anyone who might need it right now we’d be honored to.”

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