Huntley principal part of task force reviewing Black history curriculum

  • Marcus Belin, Huntley High School principal, is part of a state task force reviewing how Black history is being taught in schools.

    Marcus Belin, Huntley High School principal, is part of a state task force reviewing how Black history is being taught in schools. Courtesy of Huntley Community School District 158

 
 
Updated 2/27/2021 4:43 PM

A state task force aims to help school districts improve how Black history is taught in classrooms.

The Illinois State Board of Education's Black History Curriculum Task Force is conducting an audit of history curriculum in K-12 schools. It is reviewing whether schools currently teach Black history, at what grade level it is taught, when it is discontinued, and whether it is incorporated into standardized tests. A survey of school superintendents statewide yielded more than 600 responses.

 

There is no consistency with the way Black history is being taught in schools, said Marcus Belin, principal of Huntley High School and a task force member.

"There are some that just scratch the surface, some use resources available online, there are some using boxed curriculum that is available. There is just a wide range of methods being used," Belin said. "What we want to get to is, across the state, everyone is receiving at least this foundational knowledge and understanding of Black history. How do we allow kids to see themselves in the curriculum that is being taught?"

Celebrating women leaders:

The American Association of Retired Asians and Hanover Township will celebrate International Women's Day from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 6.

Speakers include Mahrukh Hussain, vice president and general counsel for McDonald's Corporation; state Sen. Karina Villa of West Chicago; state Rep. Theresa Mah of Chicago; Michelle Gale, director and researcher at Green Economics Institute; and Dr. Aparna Sen Yeldandi, co-chair of the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network and member of the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues.

To register for the free virtual event, call (630) 483-5600.

Helping travelers

A program providing free legal assistance to Muslim travelers detained or denied entry into the United States has helped more than 1,000 Chicago-area families affected by the former Trump administration's travel ban.

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The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, aims to continue the Traveler's Assistance Project providing full-time, pro bono airport legal assistance to Muslim travelers and others affected by the travel ban.

The program launched days after the ban went into effect in January 2017. Initially, the ban prevented citizens from overwhelmingly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, as well as North Korea and Venezuela, from entering the U.S. In January 2020, it was expanded to include Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

The ban was challenged by national civil rights groups but was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as constitutional in 2018. It was repealed on Jan. 20 by President Joe Biden.

Sufyan Sohel, deputy director and counsel for the Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago chapter, says a program providing free legal assistance to Muslim travelers detained or denied entry into the United States will continue even after the former Trump administration's travel ban is repealed.
Sufyan Sohel, deputy director and counsel for the Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago chapter, says a program providing free legal assistance to Muslim travelers detained or denied entry into the United States will continue even after the former Trump administration's travel ban is repealed. - Courtesy of Sufyan Sohel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Changing traveler discrimination culture will take time as airport detainment has steadily increased, said Sufyan Sohel, CAIR-Chicago deputy director and counsel.

"Over the last four years, we have had thousands of community members of all races and religions contact us seeking our help for themselves or family members due to lengthy questioning, detention, or denial of entry by U.S. officials at O'Hare airport," Sohel said. "We still get maybe like 20 calls a month ... we don't foresee this going away any time soon."

Travelers or their family members needing help can contact an on-call attorney for travel guidance or assistance through the 24-hour hotline, (872) 333-2737, manned seven days a week. For information on the program, visit tapus.org.

Combating racism

Two Chicago-area nonprofits are hosting a series of bystander intervention training sessions to combat a rise in anti-Asian and anti-Muslim attacks and hate crimes.

The initiative is sponsored by CAIR-Chicago, Advancing Justice Chicago and New York-based nonprofit Hollaback!

Each one-hour virtual training session, running Tuesday, March 2, through April 1, teaches participants about the history of anti-Asian racism and Islamophobia in America, how to identify situations of harassment, and how to intervene safely.

To register or for more information, visit advancingjustice-chicago.org.

Youth leaders

Midwest Sports Academy will host a "Rising Youth Leaders Conference" for Black boys in fifth through ninth grades on March 12.

The free event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lindner Fitness Center at Judson University, 1151 N. State St., Elgin. Guest speakers include Curtis Sartor, Judson associate vice president for diversity and spiritual development; Toma Kpandeynge, account executive at Salesforce/Commercial Financial Services; and Donavan Bird, a Streamwood High School graduate and a finance major at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The conference is for members of Elgin Area School District U-46's Brothers Rise Up program, which primarily supports Black male students to ensure their success in school. The program is offered for third- through ninth-graders at 18 U-46 schools. Students work with adults and peers on character development, social skills, leadership, academic excellence and career development.

Other interested students are invited to participate by registering by Sunday, March 7. To register, visit midwestsportsacademy.org.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic at mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com.

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