IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. — ​School districts in Monroe County have adopted a new anti-racism curriculum, which teaches history through a wider lens and includes all backgrounds.

In the era of COVID-19 and virtual learning, parents are tasked with teaching students a wide array of things. One of those skills is cooking breakfast or lunch in the Smith household.

What You Need To Know

  • Anti-racism curriculum aims to teach history through broader lens

  • Focus on history dating from the 1964 uprising to present day events in Rochester and Monroe County

  • Anti-racism curriculum starts this spring, and will continue to expand over time

"He’s learning to be self-sufficient you know, mom and dad aren’t there to make lunch every day, in fact he’s doing it for us, you know we’re busy, mom is teaching all day," said Idris Smith, an East Irondequoit parent and school board vice president.

Along with a busy schedule, the Smith family still makes it a priority to educate their kids on all history and experiences, which are sometimes hard conversations, but the family is happy schools in Monroe County adopted a new anti-racism course.

Idris Smith said, "Being supported in that way as a parent, that those teach their child a more expanded version of the things that they learn in school, I feel like it’ll be a good step in the right direction."

School leaders in Monroe County say it’s the first of its kind in the county, and perhaps New York state. The curriculum focuses on race, equity, and inclusion.

Dr. Shaun Nelms, superintendent of East High School in Rochester, says the course covers things in Rochester and Monroe County dating from the 1964 uprising to present day.

"It’s important to know that this is not indoctrination of thought, but an opportunity to give kids safe space, and place to have meaningful conversations about matters that means most to them," said Nelms.

The change to the curriculum is not something that just has parents and school leaders excited, but also some students.

"Now we don’t have to fully depend on our parents to teach us like the real stuff, but it’s like I’m happy and proud that we’re getting taught the real stuff in school now," said Eamon Smith, an East Irondequoit student.

Idris Smith says the curriculum will incorporate some books like “Stamped” and “Dear Martin,” books already part of the family collection at home.

Smith added, "Kids should have a broad array of things that influence their growth, and you know, if I’m doing my job as a parent, then I’m exposing my son and my children to things that I think are valuable to their education as humans, as people growing up. It’s not about, 'is this going to be on a test,' it’s about extracting that emotional response to some things and seeing how to grow to adversity and seeing how other have done that."

Some people may hear anti-racism and think of Black and white issues, but supporters of the course say it covers all people.

"It is involving all experiences that are American. You know everybody has a different American experience, and telling all of those stories at an equal and whole level, I think is only going to influence everybody in a positive way," said Smith.

School leaders over the program say it’s only the start, and they understand it will not end racism or make everyone understand equity.