Students' Knowledge of Civil Rights Poor, Study reports
1. What year did the Montgomery Bus Boycott take place?
2. Who was Medgar Evers?
3. What organization do the letters SNCC represent?
If you don't know the answers to these question or felt the need to tab over to Google, don't feel bad. Like most students these days, you're knowledge of Civil Rights history is just woefully inadequate. That's according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center that was released. Wednesday.
In its report, the Center gave each state a letter grade based on how well its standards address the "generally accepted core knowledge of the movement." Only three states, Alabama,Florida and New York received an A. Thirty-five states received an F, sixteen of them failed to require any instruction about the movement while the other 19 required little mention of the events that reshaped the U.S.
The New York Times cited critics of the report like Fritz Fischer, a professor at the University of Northern Colorado who is chairman of the National Council for History Education, who claimed it was unfair for Colorado to receive an F. While Colorado leaves its curriculum to local districts, " some Colorado schools teach the civil rights movement thoroughly" according to Dr. Fischer. That's all good and well, except that the events of the civil rights affected all of the U.S., not just some.
The report is not the first one to take history curriculums to task, students have consistently performed poorly in federal history tests administered by the Department of Education. On the history test last year, only 12 percent of high school seniors showed proficiency.
Some of the fault for the lack of knowledge among students stems from the fact that United States history is typically taught in chronological order. By the time the 1950s and 1960s roll around, you've spent most of your time in the founding of the country, the major wars and the Great Depression.Continued on the next page