Members of the Chicago Board of Education and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett recently introduced the Interdisciplinary Latino and Latin American Studies Curriculum, which focuses on the history, arts and culture, and contributions of Latinos and Latin Americans, along with the cultural diversity of the Americas, including Central, South America and the Caribbean. This new curriculum is a direct result of the work of the Chicago Public School Latino Advisory Committee established by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CEO Byrd-Bennett last year.
“Latinos are now the largest student demographic in Chicago Public Schools, but for far too long their ancestral story was relegated to the back pages of our history books,” said Byrd-Bennett. “The history of Chicago cannot be written without celebrating the contributions of immigrants from Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Their triumph over ignorance, prejudice and discrimination is the quintessential American story—and finally that story will be told in every grade and in every school across CPS.”
Interdisciplinary Latino and Latin American Studies Curriculum (ILLASC) is based on the universal themes of culture, dignity and identity and it’s the district’s second cross-disciplinary curriculum that engages ethnic American studies. The units of study and launch lessons that are available are in literacy, social science, fine and performing arts, physical education, health, mathematics and science. Each unit of study and its accompanying launch lesson include specific instructional guidelines for English learners, developed by a team from Office of Language and Culture, Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services and the Office of Early Childhood Education. This feature allows for the curriculum to be taught by a variety of teaching and support staff, for all types of students and learners in CPS.
“This is a curriculum that engages Latino and Latin American content in a deep and meaningful way, exploring, analyzing and investigating culture, dignity and identity. It goes way beyond Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Jesse Ruiz, vice president of the Board of Education. “It engages the cultural diversity of the Latino community in the U.S. and of Latin America, and it considers how to advantage all learners by giving young people a greater sense of self-awareness through the study of heritage and culture.”
The Office of Language and Cultural Education developed and wrote the instructional guidelines to support English learners. The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services and the Office of Early Childhood Education contributed developmentally appropriate instructional guidelines to advantage early learners and students with diverse learning needs.
The ILLASC curriculum was released on the CPS Knowledge Center in February and this gave teachers and principals the opportunity to teach units from Kindergarten to 10th grade from the curriculum now. However, this soft launch will be accompanied by professional development and allow for a deeper engagement with teachers this summer.
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