High School Students Demand Diversity Awareness In Curriculum

Students in one North Jersey school district are demanding schools teach about anti-Asian bias and the Black Lives Matter movement. CBS2's Meg Baker reports.

Video Transcript

- Students in one North New Jersey district are demanding schools teach about anti-Asian bias and Black Lives Matter.

- CBS 2's Meg Baker shows us how they're taking a stand and what their school is doing to promote change.

MEG BAKER: Michelle Ling and Esther Park go to Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale.

ESTHER PARK: I always had been normalized to the pulling the eyes back and, like, name calling stuff like that. But in fifth grade, it actually happened to me. Someone did it to me directly to me, to my face. And I was just so shocked.

MICHELLE LING: Growing up here, I've always felt, like, a certain separation or, like, an otherness.

MEG BAKER: She says a lot of people have implicit biases, and the formative years of high school should be a time to learn about anti-Asian bias and the Black Lives Matter movement.

MICHELLE BECHTEL: Northern Highlands, we are a majority white school, but that's-- that's not how the world is.

MEG BAKER: Michelle Bechtel is a student representative for the Board of Education. She says the lack of diversity teaching really came to light after a former student posted on Facebook about a discussion he had with the superintendent.

Zach Munro alleges Dr. Scott Beckerman called the Black Lives Movement and anti-Asian hate political movements that the school does not respond to. Dr. Beckerman says those comments "were either not made, or taken completely out of context," and "condemns any form of racism or injustice."

He says the district added instructional coaches to provide resources for teachers on topics including the tragedy on Capitol Hill and racial attacks on the Asian population, a diversity committee, a supervisor of wellness and equity, and offered several lunch and learn sessions on Asian and Black history.

MICHELLE BECHTEL: I know some of these are relatively new, but I have never heard of so many of the things.

MEG BAKER: Alan Singer from Hofstra University, a director of social studies programs, says current events need to be discussed.

ALAN SINGER: Help us to understand past events, and past events help us understand the present.

MEG BAKER: Students plan to request a diversity day be included in the school year, and say they want to hear from their peers with other suggestions. In Allendale, New Jersey, Meg Baker, CBS 2 News.