Chicago public schools are set to introduce a new Afro-centric curriculum, according to a closely-guarded copy obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The curriculum covers kindergarten through tenth grade and is designed to align with Common Core. It includes a web link to TheAfrican.com, a website whose publisher decries “fake-Jews” and calls the United States a “Zionist-occupied enemy territory.”
The site also claims that the world will end sometime this year and that President Barack Obama is “merely another trick of [the beast of the 4th Kingdom].”
The new Chicago curriculum was announced last December.
“CPS has taken great pride in developing a yearlong, interdisciplinary African and African-American studies program that will enrich the understanding and appreciation of African and African-American history and culture to help build stronger and more cohesive student communities,” said Chicago Public School chief executive Byrd Bennett in an announcement of the curriculum, dubbed IAAAS.
CPS began developing IAAAS after a push last year from groups that wanted to implement a state law passed in 1990 that required public schools to offer one unit on African-American history.
But CPS went above and beyond, implementing the curriculum across all core disciplines, which include literacy, mathematics, science, social science, the arts, physical education and health.
“The law said it had to be one unit devoted to the history of African-Americans,” Annette Gurley, CPS chief officer of teaching and learning told the Chicago Tribune in 2013. “What we’ve done is we’ve taken it throughout the year for all subjects, not just one subject.”
But some of the subjects, including those discussed at TheAfrican.com, are heavily controversial. The Chicago curriculum topic discussed at TheAfrican.com is “The Black Athena,” a book written by historian Martin Bernal. Sixth and ninth grade Chicago students will discuss the book and an accompanying full-length Youtube documentary.
In the work, Bernal claimed that ancient Greeks stole much of its civilization from Egypt, which, Bernal asserts, was populated by blacks. The Chicago curriculum entertains rebuttals to Bernal’s theory but skews heavily in its favor.
Ron Fritze, a historian, the dean of Athens State University, and author of the book “Invented Knowledge,” says that Bernal’s theories are not historically accurate and have no place in Chicago schools.
“As a historian and an educator, I am very troubled by the notion of [students] in Chicago city schools spending five weeks on Bernal’s ideas,” Fritze told TheDCNF.
“His ideas are outliers of scholarship and have been largely discredited among other scholars,” said Fritze, noting that few scholars from Egypt or even China and Japan subscribe to Bernal’s theories.
Fritze says that while most of Bernal’s critics had proven expertise in Classical studies, ancient history, and Egyptology, most of his supporters were not specialized in those fields.
“But they were people who found his ideas to be politically attractive,” said Fritze.
Chicago fifth graders will be exposed to another controversial and widely-criticized theory in Ivan van Sertima’s “They Came Before Columbus.” Van Sertima, who taught at Rutgers University, theorized that Africans populated the Americas well before Columbus.
But critics largely panned the work. In a 1977 New York Times book review, archaeologist Glyn Daniel called van Sertima’s work “ignorant rubbish” and labeled it “myth and folklore.”
Fritze is critical as well.
“I and most historians of exploration consider ‘They Came Before Columbus’ to be very wrong in its contentions about African voyages to the Americas,” he told TheDCNF.
Nevertheless, the IAAAS curriculum provides a unit on the work that includes links to seven-part Youtube video series.
Laid out in the curriculum are pictures with arrows drawn to help guide teachers’ lessons. One asks, “Is the water under the ‘boat’ telling us that these people traveled over the ocean from a place with pyramids?”
CPS initially denied TheDCNF’s request for a copy of the curriculum, made last year, citing the fact that the curriculum was still a preliminary draft.
But last December, Byrd-Bennett made a presentation using slides taken from the IAAAS curriculum. State open records laws require officials to release records of preliminary drafts when those records have been discussed in a public forum.
The Chicago curriculum does focus heavily on well established history and events – including discussions on slavery, the histories of black inventors, the civil rights movement and President Obama.
But other sections also delve into controversial areas. The eighth grade literacy section unit, titled “Being an Advocate to Social Justice,” directs students to the website for the American Civil Liberties Union. It also includes a poem titled “Racism is Around Me Everywhere,” cartoons from the website LeftyCartoons.com, and it encourages discussion of Attorney General Eric Holder’s infamous “nation of cowards” quote.
The ninth grade literacy section encompasses a study of the Pan African Movement. Teachers are encouraged to engage their students in debate over voluntary segregation. “Have someone read the following resolution, Resolved: voluntary segregation promotes growth in a diverse community. Teams then participate in a graded formal debate.”
Tenth graders are introduced to “critical race theory,” which holds that institutional racism and white privilege are pervasive throughout society.
A request for comment from Chicago Public Schools was not answered.