SPLC Makes Doubtful Curriculum Claims

The Southern Poverty Law Center has released a new report, Teaching the Movement: The State of Civil Rights Education in the United States 2011, that claims that ” Across the country, state educational standards virtually ignore our civil rights history.”

The report reaches this claim by comparing ” state standards and curriculum frameworks” to “the generally accepted core knowledge about the movement.” But I think the comparison could have been more thorough.

Surprised that Virginia got only a “C” grade, I checked the SPLC report against the Virginia Standards of Learning.

Here’s the SPLC report:

Virginia’s list of notable events is a bit scattershot. It does not mention Little Rock, the Birmingham protests, Mississippi Freedom Summer, the 24th Amendment or the Selma-to-Montgomery March.

And here’s part of a lesson plan from Virginia’s History and Social Science Standards of Learning: Enhanced Scope And Sequence:

Instructional Activities

1. Provide a brief discussion of the following events related to the Civil Rights movement:

• Montgomery Bus Boycott
• Little Rock school integration
• Greensboro lunch counter sit-in
• Freedom Rides
• Birmingham
• Freedom Summer
• Selma

Who deserves the C?

More generally, when the SOLs spend as much time on the Civil Rights movement as the American Revolution, the entire period from 1790 to 1850, or “The United States’ Role in World Affairs from 1890 to 1940,” it strikes me as a stretch to say they “virtually ignore our civil rights history.”

h/t: Sara Mayeux

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