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Pa. receives poor mark for not mandating curricula about civil rights movement

By the Notebook on Mar 31, 2014 04:16 PM

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

In the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision turns 60, a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says that states too often omit the civil rights movement from officially mandated school curricula.

In "Teaching the Movement 2014: The State of Civil Rights Education in the United States," the center has assigned grades to each state based on the depth and breadth of their coverage of the subject.

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware each received a "D."

To be clear, these grades aren't based on what potentially ends up being taught in classrooms. Instead, it gauges how much value the state's department of education puts on teaching the content.

"It's very hard to know what people are doing in classrooms," said Maureen Costello, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance project. "What we were looking at is: What are the messages that states are sending to teachers and students about the emphasis that they put on civil rights.'"

In keeping with the trend of teaching skills, not content, Pennsylvania and Delaware provide no specifics on exactly what history needs to be taught.

New Jersey proscribes lessons on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in its mandated curriculum, but demands no greater context of the genesis of the grassroots movement around him.

"We think the resources leave too much in the hands of individual teachers, schools and districts," said Costello. "We do encourage states to step up to the plate and make their expectations about what should be taught clearer. ... You can't apply those skills in a vacuum." 

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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Comments (5)

Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on March 31, 2014 8:28 pm
How about a course on how an African American Elite is creating an Apartheid educational system in Philadelphia through Charter Schools. Oh I forgot the Charters only teach to tests so they won't do it and there will soon be no Public schools in Philadelphia County. With ll the inequitable treatment of poor students in Philadelphia; we are worrying about this?? Why?
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on April 1, 2014 10:42 am
If its not on the PSSA it won't be taught.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 1, 2014 12:41 pm
The civil rights issue of our times is not just education itself. It is the stripping of the rights of minority populations to true "public education" and their rights to participate in its decision-making and governance processes. In Philadelphia and other urban centers, civil rights are being stripped from students, parents, teachers and the local communities. Free appropriate public education is a civil right. So is the process of participating in the governance of public schools. So is the right to speak freely without reprisal. So is the right to due process. Those rights are all being denied to specific citizens of Philadelphia. Instead of citizens in a democracy, Philadelphians are being turned into "customers" of schools as private businesses.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 1, 2014 5:58 pm
Philadelphia is too busy RE-segregating it's School District to be bothered with silly things like Civil Rights. . .
Submitted by anon (not verified) on April 1, 2014 6:40 pm
civil rights. ain't that somethin' that martin and rosa fought for back in the 60's and won? yeah, that's right. they even dedicate a day to him in january, so we can give these mastery schools a fresh coat of paint once a year. all right now, that's a long time ago. over and done with. history. we're all free now. keep movin', clear it out,…ain't nothin' to see here.

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