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Connecticut wll become the first state to require high schools to offer Black and Latino studies in fall 2022

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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont made the announcement Wednesday, after signing the law, Public Act 19-12, last year. The law requires high schools to “include an elective course of studies at the high school level that provides students with a better understanding of the African-American, Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino contributions to United States history, society, economy, and culture,” according to a news release.

Though high schools are required to offer the course, students will not be required to take it.

The change comes as school districts across the country pay more attention to diversifying K-12 curriculums, as communities assess what history is taught in schools and what is left out.

“Increasing the diversity of what we teach is critical to providing students with a better understanding of who we are as a society and where we are going,” Lamont said. “Adding this course in our high schools will be an enormous benefit not only to our Black and Latino students, but to students of all backgrounds because everyone can benefit from these studies.”

Miguel Cardona, the education commissioner of the state, also praised the move, saying that 27% of students in the state identify as Hispanic or Latino and 13% identify as Black or African-American.

“Identities matter,” Cardona said in a statement. “This curriculum acknowledges that by connecting the story of people of color in the U.S. to the larger story of American history. The fact is that more inclusive, culturally relevant content in classrooms leads to greater student engagement and better outcomes for all.”

Also in the state, a bill has been proposed to require the teaching of Native American history, which is currently recommended but not required.