Oct 3, 2011 7:18 PM by Melissa Hawkes

Study Finds Students Don't Know Enough about Civil Rights Movement

Most Americans can identity Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, but a new study suggests children don't know enough about one of the most important times in our country's history--the Civil Rights' Movement.

The study ranked every state on a scale from 'A' to 'F'. Only three states got an 'A' and thirty-five states received an 'F'. Louisiana was one of six states that landed right in the middle.

This is the first year, the Southern Poverty Law Center conducted the survey and some educators in Acadiana feel the findings are not accurate.

Northside High senior, Keevyn Arcisse, said he's known about Martin Luther King, Malcom X and Rosa Sparks since elementary school. The studies findings suggest key leaders may be the extent of Louisiana student's civil rights knowledge.

Southern Poverty Law Center Teaching Tolerance Director, Maureen Costello, said Louisiana has"a lot of emphasis on leaders in the movement, like Martin Luther King, but not a lot of emphasis on groups involved."

Northside High student Spencer Harrison said he has learned about groups involved from his teacher Elizabeth Tullier..

He said, "it's not just color or things like that; it's the right to vote and the right to free speech."

Tullier said, "I'm quite disappointed because I do believe in the state of Louisiana, especially in Lafayette Parish, our comprehensive curriculum includes civil rights. We include many units from Pre-K on through high school."

When Louisiana students reach college campuses, they should have at least some understanding of the civil rights movement, but professors at University of Louisiana at Lafayette said it's alarming how many students don't know the basics.

Civil rights professor, Dr. Rick Swanson, said "I get students that don't understand civil rights, American history and democracy and this is every single year."

Swanson said the study shed's light on a bigger problem.

He said not knowing some of the most important events in our country's history is threatening democracy as we know it.



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