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LINK: Social Studies in Action Home Image of a high school student in the classroom.
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Classroom Profile | Lesson Background

Read this information to better understand the lesson shown in the video.

Content: Civil Rights Legislation
Against a historical backdrop of racial violence and legal discrimination in America, the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination in all public facilities and gave added power to the courts to enforce voting rights and the integration of public schools. It also included an equal opportunity provision, prohibiting discrimination in hiring based on race, sex, religion, or national origin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was amended in 1972 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, prohibiting discrimination in the private workplace on the basis of sex, race, religion, or national origin. Title IX of the Civil Rights Act was also amended in 1972, by the Education Amendments, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program receiving federal funding.

Students in discussion.While the civil rights era was marked by unprecedented progress for minorities and women, the legislation that enforced equality was considered very controversial. First introduced in 1923, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1972, prohibiting the denial of any Constitutional right based on gender. In order to become law, however, the amendment had to be ratified by at least 38 states. Although initially supported by most states, it was ultimately considered too controversial. On June 30, 1982, the deadline for ratification passed without the necessary votes. On July 14, 1982, the ERA was reintroduced in Congress. It has been before every session of Congress since then. The most recent bill imposes no deadline on the ratification process, but passing the amendment into law would require a "yes" vote by two-thirds of each house of Congress along with ratification by at least 38 states.

Content: Gender-based Distinctions
In this lesson, students discussed the following examples of gender-based distinctions, established by civil rights legislation and court precedent.

  • States cannot set different ages at which men and women legally become adults.
  • Employers cannot require women to take mandatory pregnancy leaves.
  • Girls cannot be barred from Little League baseball teams.
  • Women can keep their maiden names after marriage.
  • Public facilities, businesses, and service clubs may not exclude one gender.
  • Schools must pay coaches of girls' and boys' teams equally.
  • Hospitals may bar fathers from the delivery room.
  • A law may be written that punishes males but not females for statutory rape.
  • Single-sex public schools are permitted if enrollment is voluntary and quality is equal.
  • States can give widows a property-tax exemption not given to widowers.
  • The Navy may allow women to remain as officers longer than men without being promoted.
  • Congress may exclude women from the military draft.
  • Girls may not be prevented from competing against boys in noncontact high school sports.

Teaching Strategy: Cooperative Learning and Civil Discourse
Controversial issues provide opportunities to promote and practice civil discourse in the classroom. Established guidelines for civil discourse help structure and neutralize students' interactions during discussions about controversial topics. The following guidelines are used in Mr. Rockey's classroom:

  • Everyone should participate and offer ideas.
  • Seek to understand before being understood.
  • Ask clarifying questions.
  • Separate yourself from your ideas.
  • Challenge ideas, but respect each other's views.

One strategy for small-group discussions is cooperative learning. Each student in the group is assigned a role (reader, recorder, facilitator, and process keeper) to ensure participation by every member of the group. You can convey your expectations for effective group discussions using the "fishbowl" approach: One group models a discussion, the class observes, and you provide feedback on the group's work.

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