Leaders F (0%)
Groups F (0%)
Events F (0%)
History F (0%)
Opposition F (0%)
Tactics F (0%)
Content F (0%)
Grade levels A (100%)
Current events F (0%)
Civics F (0%)
Other movements F (0%)
Context D (25%)
GRADE F means North Carolina includes none or less than 20% of the recommended content and should significantly revise its standards.
According to the North Carolina Social Studies Standard Course of Study (updated August 2006), students first encounter the civil rights movement in fifth grade and then revisit it in 11th grade. The requirements are minimal.
Elementary and Middle School
Grade 5: Students should “evaluate the effectiveness of civil rights and social movements throughout the United States’ history that reflect the struggle for equality and constitutional rights for all citizens.”
Grade 11: Students should “trace major events of the civil rights movement and evaluate their impact.”
African-American Studies: This elective course has its own sequence and competency goals. The course begins with slavery and continues through the present day. One competency goal is directly related to the civil rights movement and offers insight into what the state considers more detailed coverage of the civil rights movement. This goal says “learner[s] will analyze the successes and failures of the civil rights movement in the United States” and lists these objectives:
• Explain how legal victories before 1954 gave impetus to the civil rights movement.
• Describe the impact of Brown v. Board of Education and evaluate the resistance and reaction to it.
• Define various methods used to obtain civil rights.
• Identify various organizations and their role in the civil rights movement.
• Assess the extent to which the civil rights movement transformed American politics and society.
• Determine the impact of the Vietnam War on the civil rights movement.
A number of supplemental documents including sample lesson plans and curriculum guides dealing with the civil rights movement are archived on the North Carolina Public Schools website and its sister site, LEARN NC (maintained by the UNC School of Education). These include:
• An elementary school lesson plan encouraging students to compare Nelson Mandela’s efforts and the struggle against apartheid to Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and the struggle for civil rights.
• A high school writing enrichment scenario linked to the English-Language Arts curriculum that provides a detailed encounter with the civil rights movement and a variety of writing assignments that reach deeply into civil rights content.
In addition, UNC’s Department of Education offers an online professional development course for North Carolina teachers, “The Civil Rights Movement In Context.” The course description explains that participants will investigate “the precursors to the civil rights movement, its leadership, its opposition, and its legacy, including lesser-studied events of the movement and primary sources.” In addition to this free course, educators can access dozens of civil rights movement-related lesson plans for a variety of grade levels from LEARN NC.
Although North Carolina requires students to learn about the civil rights movement in multiple grades, the state provides no content guidance for core courses in its standards. It has, evidently, relied on outside providers and public-private partnerships to create teaching materials that are often outstanding. The failure to set high expectations in state standards is a missed opportunity.