Author

Sarah Turney

Document Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2011

Capstone Advisor

Jeffrey Stonecash

Honors Reader

Thomas Raven

Capstone Major

Political Science

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component

no

Capstone Prize Winner

no

Won Capstone Funding

no

Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

American Politics | Comparative Politics | Political Science

Abstract

There is a general disconnect between the services the New York State government offers and their utilization. This paper focuses on the New York State Division of Human Rights. The New York State Division of Human Rights purpose is to enforce the Human Rights Law through investigations into complaints of discrimination based on the protected classes. For the purposes of this paper, only employment discrimination will be discussed.

This paper argues the lack of utilization of these services arises from the lack of resident awareness of these services. Moreover, this paper argues that implementing practical government lesson plans into the New York State Social Studies curriculum could help remedy the lack of awareness. In order to demonstrate the disparity between the number of perceived incidents of discrimination and the number of cases filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights, a Gallup Organization study of employment discrimination. This study yielded an annual national rate of perceived employment discrimination. Using this number, an estimate of the number of perceived incidents of employment discrimination in New York was calculated. This number was then compared to the number of complaints filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights. The number of perceived incidents of employment discrimination was much greater than the number of complaints filed with the Division.

In order to demonstrate that lack of awareness was the potential cause of this difference, high school students and faculty were surveyed about their knowledge of the Division. These surveys revealed the general lack of awareness of both high school seniors and high school faculty. In addition, observations were made at the Syracuse Satellite Regional Office of the Division. These observations of intake calls demonstrated that a larger percentage of the callers were not aware of the services the Division actually offered.

This paper then discusses the current New York State Standards for Social Studies. After presenting the current standards, a proposed lesson plan for teaching practical government knowledge, specifically knowledge about the New York State Division of Human Rights is discussed. In addition, this proposed lesson plan and the information contained in it are discussed in light of the current standards. This paper argues that inclusion of this information in the required “Participation in Government” class for high school seniors actually fits perfectly with the current standards and curriculum for this class.

Through analysis of Division caseload, rates of perceived discrimination, surveys of New York State residents, and observations of a Division regional office, this paper demonstrates the under-utilization of the New York State Division of Human Rights and proposes inclusion of practical government knowledge into high school classrooms as a potential solution.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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