Leaders D (25%)
Groups F (0%)
Events F (17%)
History B (57%)
Opposition F (0%)
Tactics F (14%)
Content F (17%)

Grade levels A (100%)
Current events F (0%)
Civics F (0%)
Other movements A (100%)
Context B (50%)

Items the State Requires
: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks. Events: Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act. History: Integration of armed forces, Jim Crow, literacy tests, poll taxes. Tactics: Nonviolence.

GRADE D means Arizona includes at least 20% of the recommended content and should review and revise its standards.

Survey of Standards and Frameworks
Arizona has five master strands for social studies education in its Academic Standards. The civil rights movement appears in both the civics and government strand and in the U.S. history strand: “Post-war tensions led to social change in the United States and to a heightened focus on foreign policy. Civil rights struggles, changing social expectations, global tensions and economic growth defined the modern United States. Those issues continue to change and reshape our nation.”

As with many states, Arizona defines the items listed below that follow “e.g.” as non-required content. The state makes it clear that while “e.g.” concepts are not required, they are potentially subject to testing.

Elementary and Middle School
Grade 1:
Students should “Recognize that Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chavez worked for and supported the rights and freedoms of others.”

Grade 3: Students are asked to “Recognize that individuals (e.g., Susan B. Anthony, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., César Chavez) worked for and supported the rights of others.”

Grade 7: Civics: Identify the government’s role in progressive reforms (e.g., women’s suffrage, labor unions, temperance movement, civil rights).

Grade 8: Students are required to “Describe the importance of the following civil rights issues and events: a. Jim Crow Laws, b. nonviolent protests, c. desegregation, d. Civil Rights Act of 1964, e. Voting Rights Act of 1965.” Grade 8: Civics: Describe the impact that the following acts had on increasing the rights of groups and individuals: Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, Indian Rights Act of 1968 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Describe the impact that the following had on rights for individuals and groups: Jim Crow laws, literacy test, poll taxes, Grandfather Clause; civil rights movement (i.e., Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks); desegregation of the military, schools, transportation, sports; United Farm Workers (i.e., César Chavez); National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

High School
U.S. History:
Students must “Describe aspects of post World War II American society:”

• Postwar prosperity (e.g., growth of suburbs, baby boom, GI Bill).

• Popular culture (e.g., conformity v. counter-culture, mass-media).

• Protest movements (e.g., anti-war, women’s rights, civil rights, farm workers, César Chavez).

• Assassinations (e.g., John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X).

• Shift to increased immigration from Latin America and Asia.

Arizona’s content requirements for learning about the civil rights movement are very weak. Like many states, Arizona’s standards omit discussion of racism and white resistance. The state does require students to learn about Jim Crow, literacy tests and poll taxes, but fails to provide guidance about the origins of those discriminatory laws. While Arizona does include education about the civil rights movement in multiple grades, a closer inspection reveals that much of the required content simply repeats from year to year rather than building upon prior knowledge.

The story about the civil rights movement told in these standards is a story of a small number of heroic individuals (no groups are included in either required or suggested knowledge) who influenced legislation (students are repeatedly required to learn about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965) without substantial resistance.