USA: Make race relations a part of civic education

USA/April 14, 2021/ By: Dr. Kitty Oliver/Source:

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s new required K-12 civic education program is part of a growing national trend calling for teaching the “foundational concepts” and “common values” we share as Americans.

The curriculum is still being developed. But in announcing the program, DeSantis made the point to exclude discussions of critical race theory, describing it as an “unsanctioned narrative” that will make students hate their country and one another. He was referring to the study of racial oppression and institutionalized inequalities in U.S. society. But honest discussions of race must be included in civic education.

As a lifelong Black Floridian, I’m in favor of getting back to the basics of this country’s democratic principles. When I was growing up in the 1960s, we were taught about citizenship in our segregated schools even though we weren’t enjoying the benefits in the Jim Crow South. I remember memorizing the freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights to pass a test and reciting the preamble to the Constitution, word-for-word, in front of the class.

Dr. Kitty Oliver is an author, oral historian, and media producer with a Ph.D. Comparative Studies focusing on race and ethnic communication.

The idea of creating a more perfect union resonated with me as a teenager when I joined my first voter registration drive. I had heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. call on the conscience of the nation to make good on its promise of equal rights. He used civics to fuel the civil rights movement for racial equality and inspire aspirations of racial unity. 

Civic education has the potential to do the same today.

A curriculum on American ideals of liberty, equality under the law, and the responsibilities of citizenship can include student discussions on America’s racial diversity, how not all groups have been treated well, and the avenues they can use to resolve differences and advocate for change. Those are conversations about race relations that should be a part of any civic education program. But it’s not clear from DeSantis’s remarks whether they will be.

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Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.

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USA: Make race relations a part of civic education – Sarraute Educación María Magdalena

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