Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Robyn Seglem


In the highly polarized American political climate, teachers are facing immense pressure from legislators, community members and administration that impacts their decisions regarding what and how to teach certain topics perceived as controversial. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which public high school teachers in small, rural Illinois schools incorporated Black voices and perspectives into their curricula to meet the requirements set out by the Illinois General Assembly in HB 0246. This study also aimed to understand what pedagogical methods are used when incorporating those voices and perspectives, along with the challenges that accompany teaching Black history. Participants for the study included US History teachers at small (100-500 students), rural, Illinois schools. The findings reveal that although educators approach teaching Black voices and perspectives in similar ways, the extent to which they teach them differs greatly. Teachers are impacted by political pressure from their communities, and this pressure in return impacts their curriculum choices. Teachers’ choices varied by years of experience, gender and the extent to which teachers are willing to risk teaching topics perceived as controversial. The study has implications for advancing multicultural education within social studies curricula throughout the state, and will hopefully prompt decisive action from administrators, curriculum directors and teachers.


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