Leon County Schools talk about the national inconsistency of Civil Rights education

By: Brandon Spencer | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 28, 2020

Tallahassee, Fla.(WCTV) -- For the past month, students around the country have been learning about historic African Americans.
It's all to honor black history month.

However, research shows how and even what they learn, varies from state to state and even county to county.

History can sometimes make us uncomfortable, but when it comes to topics like civil rights, Black Archives Museum director Dr. Nashid Madyun, believes we should rip off the band-aid.

"I think that sensitive topics need to be uncovered," said Dr. Madyun. "We have to understand what's derogatory in our community so that we can understand what's beautiful in our community."

As of now, there is not a national standard for how history is taught, which, can often lead to inconsistent teaching.

For example, 16 states, including Florida, list state rights as the cause of the civil war. A testament that Dr. Madyun doesn't agree with.

"States rights as a reason a reason for the civil war excludes why the states needed their right and that's because of economics and slavery," Dr. Madyun goes on to say.

While Florida's standards can vary, in Leon County, school officials say their history curriculum comes from what textbooks the state chooses.

"In Florida, we have a system whereby publishers review our standards and develop textbooks to align to our standards," said Leon County Schools Assistant Superintendent Gillian Gregory. "Then they go through a process with the department of education and they make for lack of a better term, a list, that we can vet at the local level and pick from."...

Teachers are then given the freedom to give their lessons based on the text.

"Some teachers may choose to use a project to teach a certain set of standards and other teachers may choose to approach it in a very different way," said Gregory. That kind of flexibility is really where the teacher expertise comes in."

But some community leaders don't want it to stop there.

"Unless you step outside the four corners of your school system you're going to have a discrepancy from a classroom to another classroom," said Dr. Madyun. "Teachers have time on task, they have work to do and sometimes they're limited in their ability to get outside and make the community history a part of their general history."

Leon County Schools say they are actively planning trips and events for students to make sure they receive real-world exposure to many of the things they're learning inside the classroom.