The Fight for Education
Kelly Shaw, Head Teacher at 30th Street
Aaron School students celebrated Black History Month during the month of February. 12th graders in Ms. Shaw’s Government and Economics classes learned about educational policy and the civil rights movement. One class examined the importance of educational policy throughout history while the other class focused on notable Black Americans that made a significant social, cultural, and historical impact.
Throughout the month, students researched a variety of court cases that eventually led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision to end the racial segregation of children in public schools. These cases were heard in court from the 1880s to the 1940s, and focused on issues such as traveling to and from school, the availability of school supplies, and the ability to obtain the appropriate certifications for teachers. Students summarized their selected court cases and stated whether they personally agreed or disagreed with the outcomes. To wrap up the unit, students read Segregation Has Been the Story of New York City’s Schools for 50 Years, a poignant article that was published in The New York Times in 2019. After engaging in a lively class discussion about the article, students wrote letters to their elected city officials describing what they learned from their research and urging them to continue to fight for educational equality.
At the same time, Ms. Shaw’s other class researched notable Black Americans across a variety of fields and disciplines. Each day of the month, students were introduced to Black Americans that have made an impact on society. They read a short biography about each figure and then researched further on their own. They learned about each figure’s career, why they are recognized, and what impact they have had on our society. Students were then asked to select one figure that they were inspired by and create magazine covers that featured them as TIME magazine’s Person of the Year.
The students truly enjoyed learning about important figures in Black history and making connections between educational policies and the civil rights movement. Here are some examples of the students’ work that demonstrate what they learned during this unit.