Monday, January 15, 2007

Is the dream still alive?

In a recent survey of college students on U.S. civic literacy, more than 81 percent knew that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was expressing hope for "racial justice and brotherhood" in his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. That's the good news. Most of the rest surveyed thought King was advocating the abolition of slavery. (WaPo)

Disturbing news, to say the least. Did you read that this was a survey of college students, not ones in high school? Yeah - college students. Students in university have had nearly a decade-and-a-half's worth of education, and they are still ignorant of something as recent as the American civil rights movement.
The recent survey of college students, conducted by the University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy for the nonprofit Intercollegiate Studies Institute, suggests that schools are not doing as much as they could to go beyond a cursory history lesson. More than 14,000 college freshmen and seniors at 50 colleges and universities earned an average score of 53.2 percent in the survey.
Don't you want to want to take the survey now, just to see how you would do? It would be interesting to see the average scores from the different universities. What universities did the surveyors visit? Did they go to Ivy League schools like Yale or Brown? Did they visit community colleges?
A danger, educators say, is that lessons about King can become repetitive from year to year, especially when using the same theatrical performances and movies. As a consequence, many students know about King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech but not about his seminal "Letter From Birmingham Jail," also written in 1963.

That is why each year Deal Junior High rotates the focus of its assembly , Mosteller said.

An excellent idea. If all the grades in a certain school are going to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. at this time of year, then the grades should impart different information and not just rehash the same thing every January.

One sure thing about this: Parents, don't think that you're off the hook when it comes to educating your child, just because you send them to a school. You do your part.

More from: AnotherThink, Mark Daniels, Taylor Marsh, Mark Roberts, Scott Horton

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