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State Department of Education, local teachers prepare for educational impact of Confederate flag debate

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The flag was taken down to hang instead at the Confederate Relic Room. (photo by Allen Wallace)

The first day of school is less than a month away for students in Lexington and Richland counties. Leaders at the state Department of Education and at local schools are preparing now to best address the history made while kids were out for the summer.

South Carolina legislators entered a debate on whether or not the Confederate flag, a symbol of heritage for some and hate for others, should remain on the State House grounds following the Charleston church shooting June 17. Anearly-morning vote July 9 resulted in the flag coming down and being taken to the Confederate Relic Room.

Officials at the state Department of Education say they want to honor those involved in bringing the law to fruition while still giving students a complete picture of the events.

“We are proud of the grace and dignity shown by the people of South Carolina. They are deserving of a supplement to our history courses, highlighting their peaceful actions in light of the racial conflicts in Ferguson and Baltimore,” Public Information Director Dino Teppara said. “It will be a tribute to them, and the way our state came together, so our students fully understand the character, history, and heritage of South Carolinians and how proud they should be of our state and its leaders.”

Teppara said more details on the nature of the standards supplement will be announced later after it is fully developed by officials at the Department of Education.

Albert Robertson, a past State Teacher of the Year finalist and current middle school social studies instructor in Lexington School District One, said recent events give students a “great opportunity … to look at historical context and the different meanings of symbols throughout our human story.”

“I would approach this topic … in a way that allowed them to dig deep into primary sources from now, from the time the flag was raised on the State House and was … moved to the Confederate Memorial, and from the Civil War era in U.S. and S.C. history to search for meaning,” he said.

Robertson said an ideal project for students would be designing monuments to commemorate those who died in the Civil War.

Exploring the legislative aspects of the Confederate flag’s removal is also key.

“(Meeting) with experts from the House and Senate would be most appropriate. Learning about the decision-making process at our state level and how each of the branches check one another is a major theme throughout all levels and content areas within the social studies umbrella,” Robertson said.

Even if an instructor does not teach social studies, he or she can have age-appropriate conversations about larger issues at hand.

“Looking at the rich history of South Carolina through a culturally responsive lens is most appropriate as well. Teaching students that racism is simply unacceptable and helping them to become ‘upstanders’ when they see hatred, violence or bullying is a start,” Robertson said. “We have been given a great responsibility as educators to help students make meaning of the world around them and stand up for one another as members of the human race.”

Students take a course in South Carolina history in eighth grade. Parents can view the current standards online through the Department of Education.

Chanda Robinson, secondary social studies consultant for Richland One, said “current state standards drive classroom instruction.” ColaDaily asked for input from other teachers and local school district officials, but they declined to comment because of the nature of the issues.


[“source – coladaily.com”]
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