Civil Rights Movement
February 1, 2010, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the day the Greensboro Four held a sit-in at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. At 8:00 a.m. (EST), a ribbon cutting ceremony took place in Greensboro, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary and the grand opening of the International Civil Rights Museum. This afternoon, I was able to tour the International Civil Rights Museum with my thirteen year old son.
We saw exhibits which focused on segregated schools, lunch counters, movie theaters, churches, hotels, and public transportation. We took a tour through the Hall of Shame, which featured graphic photos and reminders of hate crimes that took place throughout our nation's history. The museum will serve as an learning laboratory for all ages.
The Little Rock Nine were featured in the new museum, along with James Meredith's admission to the University of Mississippi. Revisiting the Civil Rights Movement reminds us of how far we have come as a nation, but it also reminds us how far we have to go.
In Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the court stated,
"Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society.....Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms."
Opportunity to Learn
Visiting the International Civil Rights Museum reminded me of our nation's commitment to provide free public education to all students. While we are delivering on the intent of Brown v. Board of Education, we must continue to increase each student's Opportunity to Learn (OTL).
If educators agree that all students should be prepared for the next grade level and the goal is for 100% of our students to graduate, then we should develop a clear idea of how to support student achievement. Robert Marzano (2003) cited several factors which impact student achievement. He divided the factors into the following categories: School Level, Teacher Level, and Student Level. His thirty year meta-analysis revealed that the number one factor impacting student achievement is a 'guaranteed and viable curriculum.' In other words, according to Marzano's research, Opportunity to Learn is the number one factor impacting student achievement.
Recently, Squires (2009) wrote, "It is of paramount importance to make sure students have the opportunity to learn more important content aligned with standards and assessments.....Further, school districts, through their curricula, have the tools at their disposal to control and ensure what students learn" (p. 133). Developing specific strategies which support Opportunity to Learn will impact student achievement. Over forty years of research supports that "access to curriculum opportunities is a more powerful determinant of achievement than initial achievement levels" (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p. 54). As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins and the courage of the Greensboro Four, we must act courageously to provide the opportunity to learn to each student in the United States and throughout the world.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How America's commitment to equity will determine our future. New York: Teacher's College Press.
Marzano, R. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into action. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Squires, D.A. (2009). Curriculum alignment: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.