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 A (100%)
Context D (25%)
GRADE F means Minnesota includes none or less than 20% of the recommended content and should significantly revise its standards.
Minnesota is finalizing a revision of its social studies standards, but the most recent available document (revised April 29 and sent to the commissioner for approval in June 2011) is available for review. Minnesota includes learning about the civil rights movement beginning in sixth grade. Most of the content, however, falls into the high school U.S. history course.
Elementary and Middle School
Grade 6: Students learn about the civil rights movement in their U.S. history/Minnesota history class: “Describe the post-World War II social movements including the civil rights movement, the American Indian Movement, and the women’s movement; explain how they affected Minnesota’s political and cultural landscape.”
Grade 9 (U.S. History): In Minnesota, the civil rights movement falls under the 10th U.S. history substrand: Post-World War II, United States 1945-1989. Multiple standards have benchmarks that deal with the civil rights movement: Students should “analyze the origins of the various civil rights movements (African American, Native American, Women, Latino American and counter culture, etc.) and how they manifested themselves during this time.” They should also “analyze the effectiveness of various groups in securing civil rights.”
New Standards, Less Content
These new standards are much less detailed than the state’s 2004 standards (still in effect until 2013). Those social studies standards were highly rated by the Fordham Institute for their content and instructional focus. They also contained considerably more detail about what students should know about the civil rights movement. Several of those 2004 U.S. history benchmarks (from the post-war United States section) reference the civil rights movement directly and are supported by examples of people, places and events students should know. These are reproduced below:
|Grades K-3: Student will know individuals and groups associated with key turning points in U.S. history.||George Washington and the American Revolution; Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War; Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery; Susan B. Anthony and the women’s suffrage movement; Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement; military veterans and service to country.|
|Grades 4-8: Students will explain the changing patterns of society, expanded educational and economic opportunities for military veterans, women and minorities.||Thurgood Marshall, Little Rock school integration, urbanization of American Indians, Caesar Chavez; the New Frontier, the NAACP, the Great Society, United Farm Workers’ Movement, the women’s and civil rights movements.|
|Grades 4-8: Students will explain how Minnesota has both affected and been affected by the events, people and changes in the nation and the world.||Cold War, civil rights movement, women’s movement, American Indian Movement, Coya G. Knutson, Mayo Clinic, Warren Burger, Harry A. Blackmun, Eugene McCarthy, Hubert H. Humphrey, Walter Mondale, other Minnesota figures.|
|Grade 9: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the domestic policies and civil rights issues of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations.||Fair Deal; McCarthyism; modern republicanism; military-industrial complex, Brown v. Board of Education; Montgomery Bus Boycott; Martin Luther King Jr. and nonviolence; Little Rock|
|Grade 9: Students will analyze provisions of Kennedy’s New Frontier and Johnson’s Great Society.||Space race, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, War on Poverty, Immigration Reform Act of 1965|
|Grade 9: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the “rights revolution” including the civil rights movement, women’s rights movements, expansion of civil liberties and environmental and consumer protection.||Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, sit-ins, Freedom Rides, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, race riots (Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, Minneapolis, Minn.), Ralph Nader, Gideon v. Wainwright, Miranda v. Arizona, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring; Earth Day, 4/22/70; Clean Air Act; American Indian Movement; Equal Rights Amendment; Phyllis Schlafley; Title VII, Title IX, Equal Credit Act; Affirmative Action; Bakke decision.|
According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the examples provided are not required content but only suggested topics.
Minnesota requires students to learn about the civil rights movement but does not specify any required details. The state fails to set high expectations for students and provide direction to teachers. Minnesota’s existing standards with its sets of unrelated examples (Malcolm X, the Clean Air Act and Phyllis Schlafly appear in one list without explanation of their relation to one another) lacks clarity.
The state would do better to identify a set of core personalities, events and concepts and organizing those into a coherent group of standards rather than trying to group all post- World War II movements into a hodgepodge of suggested knowledge. When it reorganizes these standards, the state would serve its students better by including elements of opposition to avoid conveying the message that the movement was largely inevitable. Omitting the Ku Klux Klan, racism and disenfranchisement tactics, Jim Crow laws and other obstacles seriously distorts the nature of the struggle.