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Wabanaki & Black History

An update on the progress that the Portland Public Schools is making on developing and implementing a Wabanaki Studies curriculum and a Local Black History curriculum was presented at the Board of Public Education's Sept. 19 meeting. Both curricula are essential to help students gain an accurate, full and inclusive history of their state and nation. Both curricula also offer opportunities for interdisciplinary learning across all content areas, not just social studies.

This school year, after more than five years of a highly collaborative process with Indigenous advisors from across the Dawnland – of which Maine is a part – the Portland Public Schools has officially launched a Wabanaki Studies curriculum. A full implementation of the curriculum is in place for kindergarten, first, third and seventh grades for the 2023-2024 school year, and a partial implementation is taking place this year in grades 2, 4 and 5. For the 2024-2025 school year, full implementation is slated for K through grade 5 (and possibly pre-K) and for grades 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

A highly collaborative process with Black education advisors also is being used to develop the Local Black History curriculum, which will use local history to contextualize and connect national and international histories, events, topics, and themes with Maine and New England. Full implementation of two units created by Facing History and Ourselves is taking place this school year in grades 8 and 10. It is hoped that full implementation for all grades will be in place by the 2026-2027 school year.

The Portland Public Schools stands out among Maine school districts in developing these comprehensive curricula, which we believe are essential for our students to have a comprehensive understanding of history and for all students to feel represented in what they’re learning. Once the curricula are fully integrated into Portland's schools, we plan to share them with schools statewide.

Watch the Sept. 19 presentation to the Board HERE (the presentation starts about 57 minutes in). View the slide show accompanying the presentation HERE.