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March 4, 2003

a civic approach to local history

The Civic Mission of Schools, our report on civic education, has been getting quite a lot of press—most of it positive. But Chester Finn wrote a critical review that has been provoking some discussion in the civic engagement world.

Over lunch today, my colleagues and I planned a deliberative Website on the history of desegregation in Prince George's County. We're thinking that the "intro" will show class photos from Northwestern High School, each year gradually morphing into the next as the school moves from segregated white, to white with one black student in 1955-8, to today's mosaic of ethnic groups. Next, visitors will be invited to explore a page that our high school students have already constructed, with a timeline of County history and interviews of participants in the integration stuggle. Visitors will then be able to move to a page that presents three contrasting answers to the question: "What should the County have done in 1955 to address school segregation?" Finally, they will be transferred to an online discussion forum to post their opinions.

A major goal is to help our students see history not only as the record of state actions, powerful people, and downtrodded victims, but also as a story of communities making difficult decisions.

March 4, 2003 3:49 PM | category: a high school civics class | Comments


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