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Communications Director, ACLU of Maine
(646) 820-4548 (call/text)

May 9, 2024

AUGUSTA – A coalition of Maine organizations is calling on the Maine State Legislature to pass an amended version of LD 2001 and for the governor to sign this important legislation into law. The amended bill would give teachers and schools some of the necessary resources to effectively teach Wabanaki and African American studies, as required by state law. The group applauds the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee’s Tuesday vote to allocate $500,000 to these subjects. The full Legislature must now approve the amended version.

The coalition includes the authors of a 2022 report showing school districts have failed to include Wabanaki studies consistently and appropriately in their curriculum: the Abbe Museum, ACLU of Maine, Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission, and Wabanaki Alliance.

LD 2001 would establish an advisory commission on Wabanaki and African American studies and provide funding for curriculum development and teacher training. This would give consistent and expert guidance to the Department of Education, school administrators, and teachers, as well as resources for teacher training and curriculum development.

Maine passed a visionary law in 2001 mandating public schools teach students about the Wabanaki, and they built on that law in 2021 by adding African American studies – but this law has not been effectively implemented. Many students have graduated with little or no education about the Wabanaki Nations and African American history. Additionally, Wabanaki and African American students continue to be erased from their own home’s past and present.

The bill originally passed with bipartisan votes in the House of Representatives (77-54) and the Senate (24-9). Because the bill was amended by the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, the Senate on Friday must vote to reconsider its original vote and amend the bill, and the House must then agree. The coalition applauds the majority that supported this important legislation in February and calls on them to approve funding to fulfill the bill’s promise.

“Teaching Wabanaki and African American studies is not optional, but as our 2022 report found, schools are often not adequately teaching these subjects. Our schools and teachers need more resources to make this happen,” the coalition said. “LD 2001 will help educators offer a complete and truthful history of this place we all call home. This will improve outcomes for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, or ancestry. When our students have the opportunity to learn our complete history, they are better equipped to grow into engaged young adults who can move forward together.”