Social Studies Interactive

Map: Where Is Black History Instruction Required

By Ileana Najarro — April 26, 2023 2 min read
Hundreds participate in the National Action Network demonstration in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis's rejection of a high school African American history course, on Feb. 15, 2023 in Tallahassee, Fla.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In a new national EdWeek Research Center survey, 65 percent of the 401 participating teachers said their state does not require students to learn Black history.

While educators and researchers point to a number of challenges that need to be addressed to ensure K-12 schools cover Black history in their curriculum, one that stands out is a lack of state mandates and rules around requiring this instruction.

In fact, in describing the goals of its new Advanced Placement course on African American Studies, the nonprofit group College Board said that access to such a discipline has not been widely available to high school students, and is in part why the group is pursuing providing the course nationally.

In a review last summer of state legislation mandating Black history instruction, the Center for K-12 Black History and Racial Literacy Education housed within the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo found only about a dozen states with such laws in place.

Those states are identified in the following map:

LaGarrett J. King, the founding director of the center said that many of these Black history mandates are often more of a symbolic gesture. State oversight committees related to the instruction of Black history mandates should push for more work in teacher training on this topic to ensure Black history is taught, he said.

He added that some of the states with mandates in place also have laws in effect that restrict instruction on topics of race.

The Education Commission of the States, an inter-state education agency, “actively tracks all introduced education policy legislation in state legislatures throughout the country, and provides summaries of all enacted and vetoed legislation, which can be found at their interactive policy tracking tool here,” according to the agency.

The table below covers legislation enacted since 2019 explicitly related to Black/African American history education, according to the agency’s policy scan.

A state’s absence from this list does not necessarily mean that students do not receive Black history education or that no state policy addresses the topic, but is instead a reflection of legislation enacted in the past four years, the agency said.

Legislation related to other categories such as ethnic studies are not included in the table. And requirements related to this topic of instruction may also exist at the school or district level, rather than or in addition to the state level, the agency added.

Related Tags:


Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
STEM Fusion: Empowering K-12 Education through Interdisciplinary Integration
Join our webinar to learn how integrating STEM with other subjects can revolutionize K-12 education & prepare students for the future.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way
School & District Management Webinar How Pensions Work: Why It Matters for K-12 Education
Panelists explain the fundamentals of teacher pension finances — how they are paid for, what drives their costs, and their impact on K-12 education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Social Studies Opinion Make History Exciting Again for Students
National History Day seeks to engage young people in deep examination of the past.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Social Studies What the Research Says Oral History Offers a Model for How Schools Can Introduce Students to Complex Topics
Community history projects like a curriculum in Memphis, Tenn. can help students grapple with issues like school segregation, experts say.
4 min read
A group photo picturing 12 of the Memphis 13.
A group photo of 12 of the Memphis 13 students.
Courtesy of the Memphis 13 Foundation
Social Studies How These Teachers Build Curriculum 'Beyond Black History'
A pilot to infuse Black history and culture in social studies is gaining ground in New York.
4 min read
Photograph of Dawn Brooks-DeCosta at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School in the Bronx.
Dawn Brooks Decosta, pictured on Oct. 2, 2020, is the deputy superintendent of the Harlem Community School District 5 in New York. Its 23 schools piloted units of a curriculum developed in collaboration between local educators and the Black Education Research Center at Columbia University Teachers College.
Kirsten Luce for Education Week
Social Studies Q&A Here's How AP African American Studies Helps Teachers 'Get Students to Think'
Ahenewa El-Amin in Kentucky is teaching the second year pilot of the College Board's new course set to officially launch this fall.
4 min read
Ahenewa El-Amin leads a conversation with students during her AP African American Studies class at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky., on March 19, 2024.
Ahenewa El-Amin leads a conversation with students during her AP African American Studies class at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky., on March 19, 2024.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week