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State Senate passes Black history education bill, sends to Gov. Carney

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Delaware students will now learn much more Black history in public schools.


The Black history education bill cleared its final legislative hurdle, approved by the state Senate in 16-5 vote.


The bill requires school districts to include more Black history education in their curriculum.  During debate Thursday, State Sen. Dave Lawson (R-Marydel) was among those questioning if the legislation takes control of curriculum from local districts - arguing its not lawmakers’ job.


State Sen. Elizabeth Lockman (D-Wilmington) disagrees.


“So I don’t think we’re at all out of bounds to add some clarity to what is required to be delivered but ultimately the content of the curriculum is in that lane for the school districts and I think that was accommodated with that amendment,” she said.


The amendment she’s referring to more clearly states that school districts will be in charge of developing their own curriculum, and the Department of Education will create resources to help in that process.

Credit Elizabeth Lockman / Facebook
State Sen. Elizabeth Lockman

The Black history bill received emotional testimony from some members, including State Sen. Ernie Lopez (R-Lewes), who says as a proud Latin American from Puerto Rico, he sees this bill helping children learn about all American history, including those often overlooked.


“You know Caesar Rodney’s up there, and we look at him every day when we walk into this chamber,” Lopez says. “And his statue was pulled down from Rodney Square about a year ago. And to me, again, I don’t want to say that to cause any heartburn or heartache but to me it’s just another example of the importance again of all of our history needs to be something that we examine.”


The Caesar Rodney statue created controversy during the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, as Caesar Rodney was both a signer of the Declaration of Indepence and a slaveholder. City officials removed the statue.


The bill previously passed the House 33-7. It now heads to Gov. Carney’s desk for his signature.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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