L.D. 2001: African American and Wabanaki studies

Resolve, to Establish the African American and Wabanaki Studies Advisory Council and Provide Funding to Support African American Studies and Wabanaki Studies.
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The bill passed the House and Senate in February, and was placed on the appropriations table.
The Maine Monitor is recapping the 131st Legislature by highlighting legislative bills you should know about. View all of our recaps.

Lawmakers passed a resolution directing the Department of Education to support African American studies and Wabanaki studies in K-12 schools. It includes establishing an advisory council that will serve as a resource to educators. 

By January 2027, the committee must produce a report on the implementation, and a recommendation on whether the advisory council should be made permanent.

The bill passed the House and Senate in February, and was placed on the appropriations table.

Supporters said the resolution would help Maine schools become more inclusive.

No one submitted testimony against the bill, but a few organizations testified neither for nor against it due to concerns about curricula development.

Read the full bill on the legislature’s website.

Here are some excerpts from testimony:

For: 

“When students see a curriculum including their Wabanaki and African American peers and their families, the school is building a positive climate that communicates respect and contributes to emotional safety, well-being and student engagement for all.” ~ Mary Bonauto, GLAD

“I believe we owe it to current and to future generations to provide the most robust and equitable education possible; to me this means updating and integrating the untold and untaught stories of African American history and present-day experience.” ~ Deborah Bicknell, Yarmouth

“I believe we can trust younger children with a lot more complexity than we give them credit for, and our reluctance to talk about history, settler colonialism, and racism is more about our own discomfort and awkwardness than it is about their ability to understand.” ~ Mareisa Weil, Freedom

Neither for nor against: 

“While this may be a necessary and heavy lift, the legislative committees of the Maine School Boards Association and the Maine School Superintendents Association are neither for nor against L.D. 2001 because similar to other curriculum mandate proposals, we believe this should go through the curriculum review process. We should use that process to evaluate what we are doing and what still needs to be done to improve our instruction.” ~ Victoria Wallack, Maine School Management Association

“While we support material creation and professional development around African American studies, and the inclusion in the Maine Learning Results, we cannot support the added burden of completing curriculum audits. A thorough curriculum audit is a time-consuming task and would be an undue burden on some districts.” ~ Debra McIntyre, Maine Curriculum Leaders Association

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Eesha Pendharkar

Eesha Pendharkar is a senior education reporter and data editor for The Maine Monitor. Eesha previously covered education at state and national levels, with a focus on race, opportunity and equity issues in K-12 schools nationwide. She also has experience as a general assignment reporter and specializes in data reporting.
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