Study: Most U.S. States Score an ‘F’ on Civil Rights Education

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American students are increasingly ignorant of the basic history of the civil rights movement, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The study finds that the further states are from the South, and the smaller their African-American populations, the worse they fare in civil rights educational standards. The report blames states’ academic standards for public schools as a leading cause.

“Across the country, state educational standards virtually ignore our civil rights history,” concludes the report, which was released on Sept. 28.

(MORE: Civil Rights: At the Breaking Point)

The center gave each state a letter score of how extensively it teaches civil rights. A whopping 35 received an F – denoting they require little or no mention of the movement. Meanwhile, only 12 states got an A, B, or C – with eight of those being southern states.

New York, where teaching must include lessons on rights’ pioneers like James Meredith, Medgar Evers and Malcolm X, was the only state outside the South to claim an A grade.

Some experts have criticized the methodology employed by the study, pointing out that some states by law must leave curriculum up to local districts.

But alarm over history teaching is not new. Students have fared worse on federal history tests administered by the Department of Education than on tests in any other subject. Last year only 12% of high school students showed proficiency.

MORE: Martin Luther King: An Assassination Remembered

Joe Jackson is a contributor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @joejackson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

1 comments
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