Jazz stars call out Utah charter school for letting students skip Black History Month

Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell
Photo: AP

The first step to unification is education.

How are we going to fix the divide in this nation if we choose to stay ignorant about our fellow citizens?

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That’s exactly what a charter school in Utah was allowing its students to do, and Jazz players like Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert weren’t going to stand for it.

North Ogden’s Montessori Academy has reversed course after initially allowing students to opt out of the school’s Black History Month curriculum. Only three of the 322 students at the academy are Black, and white students make up close to 70 percent of the school’s population, according to Utah Board of Education data.

The school’s director, Micah Hirokawa, said a few families asked not to participate in the curriculum but wouldn’t expound on the reasoning the families gave.

“We regret that after receiving requests, an opt-out form was sent out concerning activities planned during this month of celebration,” Hirokawa said in a statement. “We are grateful that families that initially had questions and concerns have willingly come to the table to resolve any differences and at this time no families are opting out of our planned activities and we have removed this option. In the future, we will handle all parental concerns on an individual basis.”

According to the Standard-Examiner, Hirokawa made the original decision to let students opt out of the Black history curriculum on Friday in a post that was on the school’s private Facebook page.

Hirokawa told parents who had concerns about the curriculum that administrators would let them “exercise their civil rights to not participate in Black History Month at the school.”

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Mitchell and Gobert summed up much of the frustration from people around the nation who thought that the decisions made by the kids’ parents and the school director were problematic and racist.

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The fact of the matter is that Black history is American history and it should be taught regularly, not just in February. The whitewashing of the American educational system has hidden both the true horrors of this nation’s history against Black and brown people while also ignoring the Black excellence of inventors, artists, and entrepreneurs that have contributed to this nation.

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Whatever reasons parents may have had for thwarting their kids’ ability to learn about Black history really shouldn’t even matter. It’s shameful that an educational institution would agree to purposefully allow a child to be ignorant about the society that they grow up in.

I thought that was the whole point of sending these kids to school. We are supposed to be enlightening the next generation, not keeping them in the dark.

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The adults in this situation are treating Black history like it’s a conspiracy theory, not as a series of facts that have been proven and recorded.

If we are serious about bridging divides in this nation, a school with a Black student population below one percent probably needs these Black History Month lessons as much as any institution.

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Once we start depriving our children of necessary history about their fellow citizens then we will never be able to fight through the stigmas that exist in our society.

Knowledge is the first step to combating racism and unifying this nation.