Teach Reconstruction Report

The report, Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction, is now in print.

This report grew out of our campaign around Reconstruction — one of the most consequential, instructive, misunderstood, and suppressed eras of U.S. history. Our study represents a comprehensive effort by the Zinn Education Project to examine the nature and extent of the barriers to teaching Reconstruction effectively. It looks to state social studies standards and local curricula as one piece of why Reconstruction is so poorly understood, assesses standards and curricula using the Zinn Education Project’s standards of what a complex and truthful history of the era should include, and presents key findings and recommendations for improvement. It is the first national study of standards on Reconstruction and has entered into larger conversations over how we teach, understand, and use history.

In January 2022, we launched the report website: TeachReconstructionReport.org. There, we’ve published the report in full — from an introduction on the importance of Reconstruction, to our stance on standards, to our key findings and recommendations, and much more. The main narrative leads into individual assessment pages for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with local vignettes from Reconstruction history, educator experiences, and standards analysis.

Since its release, the report has been featured by numerous media outlets, including TIME, The Washington Post, Rethinking Schools, and Education Week. We have also heard from educators across the country who incorporated the report into their own teaching or plan to do so in the academic year ahead. Over the next six months, we look forward to presenting on the report for the National Council for the Social Studies and the American Historical Association conferences, planning related local workshops, and further expanding our Teach Reconstruction campaign materials.

The printed version includes the entire introduction and narrative, a collection of suggested resources, and a sample of three state assessments. Our hope is that readers will incorporate the report into articles, lessons, or other initiatives, share it with colleagues, and find it useful in continuing to advocate for greater attention to Reconstruction in K–12 curricula and classrooms. As bans on teaching about racism or anything “divisive” proliferate, we know that this is no small task and requires our collective effort.

Copies of the report were sent to the campaign advisors, open letter signers, media, and teachers featured in the report.

Additional copies are available for a donation of $50 or more to the Teach Reconstruction campaign. Note in the dedication field that you would like to receive a copy of the report.

Share a story, question, or resource from your classroom.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *