More than half of U.S. states fail when it comes to teaching about the Civil Rights Movement in schools, according to a report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Alabama, Florida and New York were the only states that received an “A” and 16 states reported as not having any requirements for teaching about the movement as revealed in the study entitled: Teaching the Movement: The State of Civil Rights Education 2011.
“Most states do not think civil rights history education is important” Maureen Costello, SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance director told theGrio. “I want people to take away from the report the idea that teaching history in general is really important and teaching about civil rights encourages you to be a better citizen.”
Teaching Tolerance, SPLC’s educational resource initiative, conducted the study by examining all the 50 states’ academic standards and curriculum requirements related to the teaching of civil rights history in schools. Those standards and requirements were compared to what civil rights historians and educators consider core information about civil rights history.
The final result was reflected in the letter grade.
Georgia, Illinois and the District of Columbia earned grades of “B”, according to the report findings.
“Generally speaking, the farther away from the South-and the smaller the African-American population- the less attention paid to the civil rights movements,” the report states.
Civil right activist and former Georgia lawmaker Julian Bond, emphasized the importance of educating the public on the struggle for civil rights in America.
“It is a history that continues to shape the America we all live in today,” he stated in the report’s forward.
The biggest task may be applying the study’s recommendations and improving states’ academic standards on how to address civil rights history. Research for the report began in February.