CHICAGO —One day after Black History Month ends a South Side community group will finally meet with Chicago Public Schools' top educator to discuss creating a curriculum for next school year that includes black history.
A meeting between the school district's Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Florence Cox, president of We Can Inc., is set for 1 p.m. Friday at CPS headquarters, according to Marielle Sainvilus, a spokeswoman for CPS.
A state law, which went into effect in 1991, mandates all public schools to incoporate black history into their curriculum. But community members, including state Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago), who sponsored the state law, are concerned the district is violating the law by not including black history lessons.
Previously, We Can Inc., met with representatives for Byrd-Bennett, something Cox said she won't do anymore.
"I am tired of meeting with people who are not the decision-makers," Cox said. "We have been trying to meet with Barbara Byrd-Bennett for a couple of months now but each time she would be unavailable and send someone else in her place."
At the groups last meeting on Feb. 16, it met with Phillip Hampton, chief community and family officer for CPS, and at its Jan. 26 meeting Adrian Willis, chief of elementary schools for CPS, showed up on behalf of Byrd-Bennett.
After the group's last meeting Flowers urged them to file a lawsuit against CPS to force them to comply with the state law.
It is something Cox said she is still considering.
"Let's see what happens at the meeting and then we will go from there," added Cox, the first black president of the Chicago School Board. "But if a black history curriculum is going to be rolled out next school year as they (CPS) have said then it needs to be finalized before this school year ends."
The school district presented a draft to Cox in February but she said it fell short of educating students about their heritage.
"There needs to be some major revisions done to this proposed curriculum because it does not sit well with me," Cox explained. "For example, second graders would first be taught about the role blacks played in the Civil Rights era, which is good, but our history started before civil rights. There needs to be more about the accomplishments of blacks in this country."
Sainvilus said the school district expects to have new curriculum prepared by June 2013.
"African American history is a vital component of the culture and fabric of both our country and our city. Integrating these very important teachings into our classrooms is a priority for CEO Byrd-Bennett," Sainvilus told DNAinfo.com Chicago. "As a result, CPS has been hard at work developing a new social science framework that incorporates a mandate for including African American History."