When Virginia high school students return to class this fall, they’ll have the option of taking an African American history course — a new offering in the commonwealth this year.
The state’s Commission on African American History Education — which has been tasked with making sure African American history is properly represented in the state’s schools — would like the course to be made mandatory for seniors to qualify to graduate.
But Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni said the state is not ready for that yet.
“We just don’t have enough licensed teachers to teach the course,” said Qarni. “So we have to build capacity.”
Qarni said he expects it will take a couple of years before teachers at every school across the state are ready to teach the course, and until that then, it needs to remain an elective course in the schools able to offer the class.
“It’s unfair to make that course a mandatory requirement for graduation for every child if we don’t have the teacher workforce certified to teach it,” said Qarni.
Another of the commission’s recommendations is that all teachers in the state, K-12, should have to be certified to teach African American history.
That recommendation will be a part of a report the commission is expected to release in August.