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Chicago Public Schools Reverse Decision to Remove African-American Literature from Core Curriculum

Chicago Public Schools reversed their decision to make Latin-American and African-American literature classes an elective as opposed to keeping them as core courses at Jones College Preparatory High School. Students petitioned the district.

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Students at Jones College Preparatory High School in Chicago bravely petitioned their school for two weeks following Chicago Public School’s (CPS) decision to remove Latin-American literature and African-American literature from the core curriculum.

Marielle Sainvilus, a spokeswoman for CPS, said: “I am told that Jones will continue to be able to offer the African-American and Latin-American literature courses for core academic credit for English III and English IV.” She added: “classes will be allowed.” Sainvilus did not provide any details behind the decision to keep the classes as core English courses, which helps students satisfy their graduation requirements. Sainvilus simply said: “All I can tell you is that the decision to make this change (originally) was done by previous CPS personnel.” The previous plan was to offer both courses as electives starting Fall 2013.

P. Joseph Powers, principal of Jones College Prep, agreed with Sainvilus: “We were operating on a misconception by previous curriculum standards,” he said. “And based on a misunderstanding the decision was made to no longer offer these courses as English classes but as electives.” Seventeen-year-old Jonelle Gonzalez, a junior at the school, is ecstatic about the reversed decision. She noted the importance of learning about her Latin heritage. “I am passionate about my culture, and taking Latin literature would help prepare me for college, since I plan on majoring in Latin-American Studies,” she said.

Seventeen-year-old ShaDe’ Phoenix, the creator of the online petition, started it on Jan. 22 with the goal of collecting 1,000 signatures. Despite having 700 signatures (as of Monday), her bravery influenced the board’s decision to reverse the initial change. “Once I found out about the change, I started talking to other students and teachers, and they suggested starting a petition to present to the school board,” Phoenix, a junior, said about her decision to create the petition.

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