Leaders F (0%)
Groups F (0%)
Events F (0%)
History F (0%)
Opposition F (0%)
Tactics F (0%)
Content F (0%)
Grade levels F (0%)
Current events F (0%)
Civics F (0%)
Other movements F (0%)
Context F (0%)
GRADE F means Delaware includes none or less than 20% of the recommended content and should significantly revise its standards.
The state of Delaware issues both content standards and standards clarifications. Delaware released its most recent clarifications in 2006, providing “overarching Enduring Understandings, overarching Essential Questions, and Grade-Level Expectations” (Delaware Required Curriculum, Introduction). The state’s Social Studies Standards do not require coverage of the civil rights movement. An additional document, the Delaware Required Curriculum, includes suggested course outlines for each grade.
Elementary and Middle School
Grade 5: The suggested course outline includes the “1950s and 1960s civil rights movement” as content to address the essential question: “What does it take to be a good citizen in a democracy?”
Grade 11: The suggested course outline says that students should be able to place the civil rights movement in historical order but does not provide guidance as to how teachers should teach the movement or what they should cover:
A student should know historical chronology in such a way as to be able to place people, laws, and events. For example, from 1850 to 2000, there was a Civil War, Reconstruction in the South, the settlement of the West, the rise of industrialization and urbanization, a labor movement, imperialism, the rise of segregation, two world wars, a Cold War, the rise of the Third World, the end of colonialism, a Great Depression, a civil rights movement, a woman’s movement, a war in Korea and Vietnam, increasing technological change, globalization. Without knowing the exact years for an event, a student should still be able to place all these trends and events within the chronology, 1850-2000, in their approximate place. In other words, students should know the major events and their approximate time.
The Delaware Department of Education’s (DDE) website contains a number of sample lesson plans, each unit “created as an exemplary model for teachers in (re) design of course curricula. An exemplary model unit has undergone a rigorous peer review and jurying process to ensure alignment to selected Delaware Content Standards.”
The seventh grade unit “Expansion of Freedom” includes an activity dealing with civil rights. Students select either the 1964 Civil Rights Act or the 1965 Voting Rights Act and fill out graphic organizers, including one designed to tease out causes and effects. To support their answers, students read included handouts on the relevant laws. The handouts focus almost exclusively on the legislative hurdles the law faced without providing context on the movement itself or on white opposition.
Delaware has evidently decided that the civil rights movement does not rise to the level of required content. To be fair, the state’s standards avoid requiring any specific content on purpose. As the standards state, “The reason why specific people, laws, events, etc., are not listed is because no group of historians will ever agree on the essential and necessary facts that everyone should know.” This appeal to relativism surrenders the opportunity to lead with high expectations, rigor and accountability.