Study Finds That the Civil Rights Era Is Ignored in Public School History Classes

A new study conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center finds the nation’s public schools are doing a very poor job in educating students about the history of the civil rights movement. The report’s conclusion is that “across the country, state educational standards virtually ignore our civil rights history.”

The study gives each state a letter grade on their performance in educating public school students on the civil rights era. The report states that “Generally speaking, the farther away from the South and the smaller the African-American population, the less attention paid to the civil rights movement.”

Alabama, Florida, and New York were the only three states that received a grade of A. Thrity-five states received a grade of F.

The full report, Teaching the Movement: The State of Civil Rights Education 2011, can be downloaded here.

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  1. That’s why it is up to those of us, like myself, who experienced and lived through those days and events, to educate our children. I make sure my young nieces and nephews watch movies like Roots, Mississippi Burning, The Help, Boycott, and so on. It generates questions and discussions. We can’t expect the white school systems to teach this subject when we don’t take the time to teach our own. Then we must demand it of our school systems, much like we did in the early 1960s demanding African American history be taught. It’s up to us.

  2. Since most of our communities do not control our boards which maintain fiscal control, it is not surprising that a part of our culture is not included in American History. Moreover, it becomes difficult for some students to connect. The Civil Right’s Era should be taught, understood and shared by all in History and American Literature! How can we edify and cultivate young minds without exposure? All students should be exposed to all aspects of our culture(S), because all people have contributed to this society! Perhaps we wouldn’t have so much RACISM and a better America able to compete in a global market! Dr. Denise R. Myles, 10/8/11

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