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 Nebraska includes none or less than 20% of the recommended content and should significantly revise its standards.
The Nebraska Social Studies/History Standards touch on civil rights beginning in eighth grade. Nebraska has identified a subset of these standards called STAR (Standards That Are Reported) Standards. The difference between the standards is explained this way on the Department of Education’s website:
In order to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to assess and report social studies standards, a subset of social studies standards have been designated as STAR Standards for grade levels 2-4, 5-8, and 9-12. It is expected that all social studies standards will be taught, assessed, and reported at the local level. However only those standards identified as STAR Standards will be reported to the Nebraska Department of Education.
Nebraska no longer assesses STAR standards for social studies in any grade. In any case, none of the standards mentioning the civil rights movement are included in the STAR standards.
Elementary and Middle School
Grade 8: Upon completion of this grade, Nebraska students should be able to describe key people, events and ideas since World War II. One of the example indicators the Nebraska Department of Education provides is: “Explain segregation, desegregation, and the civil rights movement.” According to the Nebraska Department of Education, all example indicators are suggested rather than required content.
Grade 12: By the end of high school, the Nebraska Social Studies/History Standards mandate that all students should be able to “evaluate developments in federal civil rights and voting rights since the 1950’s.” Four example indicators are provided:
• The Brown v. Board of Education decision and its impact on education.
• Civil rights demonstrations and related activity leading to desegregation of public accommodations, transportation, housing and employment.
• The impact of reapportionment cases and voting rights legislation on political participation and representation.
• Affirmative action. In addition, high school seniors should be able to “evaluate and summarize landmark Supreme Court interpretations of the United States Constitution and its amendments.” One of the two example indicators references the civil rights movement: “Examine federal civil and voting rights since 1950’s, e.g., Brown v. Board of Education, demonstrations leading to desegregation, reapportionment and voting rights legislation.”
“Letter From a Birmingham Jail” is mentioned later in the standards as a famous document that students should be able to “interpret aspects of.”
Nebraska does not require students to learn about the civil rights movement. Even if the suggested content were required, the state’s score would still be below 5 percent. The state identifies essentially no content or themes. It discusses neither resistance to the civil rights movement or its tactics for overcoming resistance. Suggested content does not even include key legislative milestones such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
These standards represent a missed opportunity to set high expectations for learning about one of American history’s most important events. To be fair, the inadequacy of the state’s civil rights movement requirements is matched by the thinness of the standards overall.