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Anne Arundel students must take diversity course before graduation, board says

Anne Arundel students must take diversity course before graduation, board says
Past and present students of Arundel High School's Global Community Citizenship course host student leaders from Broadneck, Severna Park and Chesapeake high schools in December. (Lauren Lumpkin / Capital Gazette)

Starting next school year, all Anne Arundel County ninth-grade students will be required to take a class about diversity, inclusion and equity.

The Board of Education approved the policy in an 8-0 vote. District 33 member Eric Grannon was absent.

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The sweeping change comes two days after a Broadneck High School student used a racist slur in a Snapchat message. Parents and community members across the county have pressured the school district to take action against incidents of hate and racism.

A mandatory course that educates students about diversity, inclusion and equity was one of the dozens of suggestions.

Carl Snowden, convener of the Caucus of African American Leaders, called the school board’s vote “historic.”

“It’s a vote that will set a precedent,” Snowden said. “I believe it will be emulated by others across the nation.”

Arundel High School started to pilot its Global Community Citizenship course in 2017 after a petition that invited students to join a white supremacy movement circulated the school.

County Councilwoman Lisa Rodvien, whose district includes Annapolis, called on board members to adopt the graduation requirement.

“I ask you to be brave and to push forward, and you have a large community standing behind you cheering you on,” the former music teacher said. “We need it now and it can't wait.”

While many have praised the course, some parents have said the course should be offered as an optional elective, not a mandatory class.

Incoming ninth-graders — current eighth-grade students — will have to take the half-credit course this fall. High school sophomores, juniors and seniors will not be required to enroll in the class.

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