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Oak Ridge school leaders plan petition to add Oak Ridge 85 to state standards

After a new course launches at the end of the year, leaders have plans to petition the state school board to amend state standards to include the Oak Ridge 85.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The Oak Ridge School District is adding the Oak Ridge 85 to its middle and high school curriculum.

The Oak Ridge 85 were the first Black students to desegregate a public school system in Tennessee in 1955.

After the new course fully launches at the end of the school year, leaders have plans to petition the state school board to amend state standards so all Tennessee students can learn about the 85.

RELATED: The Secret in Scarboro: The Oak Ridge 85

To add the history of the Oak Ridge 85 to classroom curriculums across Tennessee, the State Board of Education has to approve it.

'Standards' are the grade, or course-level, expectations for what students should know and be able to do in courses like English, science, math and social studies.

The board reviews them, at a minimum, every six years.

The list of current state social studies standards is more than 200 pages long, including state history, geography, U.S. government and civics, just to name a few.

African American history for grades 9-12 includes the slave trade, the Emancipation Proclamation, Jim Crow laws, the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement. 

The integration of Clinton High School, which happened a little less than a year after the Oak Ridge 85, is listed as part of the Civil Rights Movement standard.

Leaders in Oak Ridge hope the integration of Oak Ridge High and Robertsville Junior High as well.

According to the state Board of Education's website, the final reading at the State Board for Social Studies standards is set for July 2023.

Those new standards will be implemented in schools for the 2025-26 school year.

You can find more Black history in East Tennessee in our YouTube playlist: