Leaders D (25%)
Groups F (0%)
Events F (8%)
History F (0%)
Opposition D (25%)
Tactics D (29%)
Content D (22%)
Grade levels A (100%)
Current events F (0%)
Civics F (0%)
Other movements A (100%)
Context B (50%)
Items the state requires
Leaders: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X. Events: Freedom Rides. Opposition: Ku Klux Klan. Tactics : Black Power, sit-ins, voter registration.
GRADE D means Arkansas includes at least 20% of the recommended content and should review and revise its standards.
The Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks (2007) include examples that are mandatory as well as examples that are suggested. Staff in the state’s Curriculum, Assessment and Research office confirmed that bullet-listed examples are mandatory, while content preceded by an “e.g.” is not. Much of the state’s civil rights content is suggested rather than mandatory.
Elementary and Middle School
Grade 3: Examine historical people and events of Arkansas (e.g., Maya Angelou, Civil War, civil rights movement). Recognize individuals who contributed to the common good of society (e.g., Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, César Chávez).
Grade 4: Identify major historical events that occurred during the 20th century (e.g., World War I, Great Depression, World War II, space exploration, civil rights).
Grade 6: Examine the following components of the civil rights movement: Freedom Riders, sit-ins, organized marches, boycotts, school integration and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Explain the migration of African Americans northward before and during the civil rights movement. Identify significant individuals whose lives impacted the civil rights movement (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Stokely Carmichael, Medgar Evers, Little Rock Nine, Thurgood Marshall). Examine changes brought about by the following world leaders including, but not limited to: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Anwar Sadat, Margaret Thatcher and Mao Zedong.
U.S. History: Only one requirement in the American history social studies curriculum framework (revised 2006) covers the movement: “Investigate civil rights issues affecting the following groups: African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, women.”
Civics/American government: The curriculum framework (2006) for the one-year required course has an institutional take on the civil rights movement, identifying key court cases, legislation and presidents:
• Analyze court cases that demonstrate how the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of individuals (e.g., Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, Tinker v. Des Moines, Gideon v. Wainwright).
• Examine changes in civil rights legislation (e.g., affirmative action, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Civil Rights Acts of 1964-1965, Voting Rights Act of 1964).
• Identify United States presidents and summarize their roles in the civil rights movements: Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
AP United States Government and Politics: The Arkansas Department of Education Enhanced AP United States Government and Politics curriculum framework (2006) includes the following items in the section on civil rights and equal protection:
• Barriers to voting, including the white primary, the Grandfather Clause, poll taxes, literacy tests, acts of violence and intimidation.
• Brown v. Board of Education: reversal of Plessy v. Ferguson, court-ordered desegregation “with all deliberate speed.”
• De facto v. de jure segregation.
• The civil rights movement.
• Changes in civil rights legislation (e.g., Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, Civil Rights Act of 1968, affirmative action programs and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).
Contemporary United States history elective: This one-semester course’s curriculum framework (2006) includes a strand called “Race and Ethnicity.” For this strand, students “analyze the role which race and ethnicity have played in world affairs.” Students should:
• Research the civil rights movement in the United States (e.g., desegregation of the United States military, Brown v Board of Education, NAACP, SCLC, CORE, Freedom Rides, Black Panthers).
• Compare and contrast the views of various civil rights leaders (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X).
• Examine the role of government in securing civil rights (e.g., federal court cases, federal legislation, 24th Amendment).
Arkansas’ standards miss an opportunity to establish comprehensive required content about the civil rights movement. Instead of identifying clear learning expectations and choosing important events and individuals to provide strong guidance for teachers, the standards are largely satisfied with a scattering of required content that is overwhelmingly legislative and individualistic. Arkansas requires little knowledge of major movement events and no knowledge of civil rights groups.
The state is to be commended for including the civil rights movement and a detailed treatment of barriers to voting in its AP U.S. Government class; unfortunately, this content is reserved for students taking the advanced class. Otherwise, the state’s discussion of barriers to the movement’s success is limited to a mention of the Ku Klux Klan. Arkansas can do better to teach its students about the reasons for the movement and its rich history.