Bronx Senator Diaz Questions US History Regents Essay

Today, my friend and former colleague state senator Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr. released a copy of his letter to Chancellor Merryl Tisch of the NYS Board of Regents inquiring why students taking the recent US History and Government Regents exam were precluded from using the Brown vs. Board of Education case in their thematic essay (although they could use other landmark Supreme Court decisions).

I replied to Senator Diaz that the Brown case was too easy to reference. The other cases listed on the history exam required real thought and analysis. And in my opinion, 60 years later Brown remains a pyrrhic victory for black public school students nationwide.

Rev. Diaz’s letter is attached below:

July 2, 2014Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Board of Regents, Room 110 EB
Albany, New York 12234 

Dear Chancellor Tisch:

This letter is to inquire why the Board of Regents limited students, in the thematic essay, to not use Brown vs. Board of Education, as they could use other important Supreme Court decisions, during the June 2014 United States History and Government Regents.

United States History and Government / Content-Specific Rubric 
Thematic Essay / June 2014

Theme: Change —The Supreme Court 
Throughout United States history, the Supreme Court has dealt with many controversial issues. The Court’s decisions in these cases have had a significant impact on the United States and/or on American society 
Task: Select two United States Supreme Court decisions that have had a significant impact on American society and for each 
• Describe the historical circumstances surrounding the case 
• Explain the Court’s decision in the case 
• Discuss the impact of the decision on the United States and/or on American society

You may use any Supreme Court decision from your study of United States history. Some suggestions you might wish to consider include Worcester v. Georgia (1832), Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Schenck v. United States (1919), Korematsu v. United States (1944), Engel v. Vitale (1962), Miranda v. Arizona (1966), New York Times v. United States (1971), Roe v. Wade (1973), and United States v. Nixon (1974). 
You are not limited to these suggestions. 
Do not use Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka as one of your Supreme Court decisions.

We all know that this year, the United States celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, ruling that segregated schools for black and white children were unconstitutional.  We also know that for the past 60 years, segregation in enrollment is not legally enforced in New York City – but by virtue of economics and the allocation of resources, segregation in New York City’s public schools for Black and Hispanic children remains a harsh reality of separate and unequal education.

As a New York State Senator representing the South Bronx – the poorest community in the nation – I believe that in one of the last tests our high school children take before graduating, they should focus on and be inspired by the promise of the Brown vs Board of Education decision – not told to exclude it.  Clearly, our youth will have to devote themselves to furthering and fulfilling that promise and for the generations of those to come.  I cannot appreciate nor understand why your History and Government Regents has so dampened this inspirational decision. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  I await your earliest reply.

Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email FOMB08@GMAIL.COM.
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