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Alumnus Spotlight: Teaching About Civil Rights

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

Alumnus Spotlight: Teaching About Civil Rights

Jeff Butch

After developing a new semester course for high school students called “The History of Racism from a Black Perspective,” I applied to attend Street Law’s first Civics & Civil Rights Institute. It sounded like it matched perfectly with the content of my course and would provide me with new ways to teach this important subject to my students.

I entered the teaching profession at age 49 and have been teaching for the last 15 years at Octorara Area High School in southern Chester County, PA. Living through the 1960s and witnessing civil rights issues first-hand piqued my interest in developing a course using black authors and their thoughts on the topic.

In today’s high schools, very little content about racism is explored through the eyes of African Americans. What do black people think, feel, and discuss about the issues of slavery and racism? Offering a course that uses the works of black authors helps students of all colors better understand the issue of racism.

This semester I am teaching this course for the third time and am enjoying putting much of the information and resources gained at the Civics & Civil Rights Institute to use. I wholeheartedly recommend this professional development institute to every teacher I meet! The materials and methods provide a perfect foundation integrating civil rights topics into social studies courses. 

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William Chenausky

My only concern is does the course allow perspectives that are politically balanced allowing both liberal and conservative points of view? A person should read: "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed" by Jason L. Riley as well as "One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future" by Ben Carson M.D. and Candy Carson. If the Institute is not politically balanced than it may be divisive, unfair, unbalanced, and possibly biased.

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