Florida Schools Surprise with Strong Civil Rights History Standards



By Douglas C. Lyons

Douglas C. Lyons

Well, well well. The Sunshine State received a passing grade in one educational category that frankly surprised me — civil rights. According to Teaching the Movement 2014, a report put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Teaching Tolerance, Florida earned a ‘B.’

Congratulations are in order. Florida ranked 11th, beating out California, Massachusetts, Illinois, the District of Columbia and many other states where you’d think the civil rights movement would be a part of the curriculum. Guess not.

The state’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards contains a number of benchmarks specific to the civil rights movement from kindergarten through high school, the report found.

The report also had kudos for the state’s African American History Week Task Force, which ensures awareness of requirements and recommends any action needed to improve instructional materials and partnerships.

Is there room for improvement? Of course. More, for example, could be said about Jim Crow, segregation laws and other episodes of white resistance, and while overall content is strong, more is needed to show conflicts within the movement or connect the movement to current events.

Still, the report’s conclusion raises hope: “With a few changes,” the report reads, ” the state could have model standards for teaching the civil rights movement.”

Florida can be proud of this 2014 assessment, The challenge today, though,  is to ensure the state of Florida keeps it moving in the right direction.

Douglas C. Lyons is the founder of www.blackinfla.com.