It's 2021 and, yet, some parents are still uncomfortable or unwilling to teach their children about Black history, as evidenced by recent developments that unfolded at a Utah charter school. After originally allowing parents to opt their children out of activities, the school in North Ogden, a predominately white city in Utah, reversed its decision on making its Black History Month curriculum optional.
Last week, at the request of parents, Maria Montessori Academy — a tuition-free public elementary and middle school — sent an opt-out form to parents who did not want their kids to participate in the school's planned Black History Month curriculum, CNN reported. Days later after facing backlash, the school has reversed its decision and said participating in the curriculum is no longer an option.
"Celebrating Black History Month is part of our tradition," the school said in a statement posted on its website. "We regret that after receiving requests, an opt-out form was sent out concerning activities planned during this month of celebration."
"We are grateful that families that initially had questions and concerns have willingly come to the table to resolve any differences and at this time no families are opting out of our planned activities and we have removed this option," the statement continued. "In the future, we will handle all parental concerns on an individual basis. We are excited to celebrate the rich content of Black History Month at our school."
While Romper's request for further comment was not immediately returned, KSL reported that Academy Director Micah Hirokawa wrote on Facebook that he was disappointed and reluctant to do the form in the first place, but parents kept asking for it.
"I am deeply troubled that in today's society, not just in our community but throughout the Nation, there are those today who still continue to exercise their civil rights to not participate in events like Black History Month," Hirokawa said in the Facebook post, according to KSL. "I believe that all of us, and especially our children, need to participate in Black History Month and in the process learn how to appreciate and love those who may be different than us."
Hirokawa's post went on to say, "We should not shield our children from the history of our Nation, the mistreatment of its African American citizens, and the bravery of civil rights leaders, but should educate them about it."
However, when asked why parents had even asked for the opt-out form, Hirokawa told 2News, "I am not going to disclose their reasons."
Although the school ultimately reversed its decision, many took to social media to point out how problematic it was. "I don’t know where to start.... racism is taught... and the fact that kids are being told by their own parents to not learn about black history and black excellence is sickening and sad!! And this is just part of the problem..... smh," Donovan Mitchell, a basketball player for the Utah Jazz, said on Twitter. Meanwhile, Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, said in a segment on Tuesday, "What an embarrassment for this school."