Browse By Migrations Geography Timeline Source Materials Education Materials Search
Unintended Consequences Lesson Plan: Policies that Impact Migration
Overview
In the narrative The Second Great Migration, the sections, "Causes of the Migrations—Pushes" and "Reverse Migration" recount the impact of federal government policies that were intended for one purpose but also had unintended consequences on migration. Unintended Consequences is a lesson plan that may be used with this narrative in history or political science/government classes. Students will examine the cause-and-effect relationship between the Agricultural Adjustment Acts of the New Deal or the 1965 Voting Rights Act and African-American migration.
Grade Levels: High school, grades 9-12
For use with:The Second Great Migration
Concentration Area:History: U.S.
Concentration Area:U.S. Government
National Curriculum Standards met by this lesson
The following standards have been taken from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) standards.
Students will understand

  • The struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties.
  • The social and economic impact of the Great Depression (e.g., the impact of the depression on industry and workers; the response of local and state officials in combating the resulting economic and social crises; the effects of the Depression on American families and on ethnic and racial minorities; the effect on gender roles; the victimization of African Americans and white sharecroppers).
  • The economic boom and social transformation of post-World War II United States.
Time required
One 50-minute class period if students read the narrative outside of class
Materials needed
  • Narrative, The Second Great Migration
  • The narrative African Immigration may be used in addition to this essay, focusing on the section The Brain Drain and the Structural Adjustments Policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.)
Anticipatory Set

  1. Ask students if they have ever heard of the so-called "law of unintended consequences." Explain that it derives largely from economics, which assumes that actions by governments and individuals always have unintended or unanticipated consequences. It is a cause-and-effect principle, sometimes as simple and frustratingly familiar as when you install a new program on your computer, and it suddenly has a host of problems, from denying access to files to flashing the "blue screen of death."
  2. Discuss, as a class, other actions, inventions, changes in the environment, and legislation that have had unintended consequences. Emphasize the cause-and-effect relationship. Alternatively, ask students to look overnight for an example, write it up in "cause-effect" format, and bring the example in the next day to share with the class.
Procedures

  1. Direct students to read segments from their textbooks or a reference book examining the Agricultural Adjustment Act (as originally passed in 1933, struck down by the Supreme Court in 1936 in a six-three decision, and recreated in 1938).
  2. Then, ask students to read the narrative The Second Great Migration focusing on the section "Causes of the Migrations—Pushes." Provide the following guide questions to assist students as they read:

    1. What appeared to be the only solution to end falling crop prices?
    2. What was the intended consequence of cutting production by taking land out of production?
    3. What were "parity" payment subsidies?
    4. What was the intended consequence of government subsidies?
    5. How were tenant farmers, owner-planters, and sharecroppers originally intended to share the subsidies?
    6. What was the unintended consequence of subsidies on tenant farmers and sharecroppers?
    7. What was the unintended consequence of the reduction in acres planted on agricultural workers?
    8. What was the unintended consequence of the subsidies for planter-owners on mechanization? On the demand for full-time agricultural workers? On the demand for part-time agricultural workers?
    9. What was the unintended consequence of the Agricultural Adjustment Act on African-American migration?
  3. Ask students to read the section "Reverse Migration" from the narrative The Second Great Migration (or the narrative African Immigration.
  4. Instruct students to write a paragraph or short composition about the unintended consequences of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on African-American migration. Students may wish to use their textbook or a reference book summarizing the original intent and provisions of the Act in conjunction with the narrative. They can also go to http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/intro/intro_b.htm for an online version of the Act. Students should include the following elements in their written assignments:

    1. Summarize the provisions of the Voting Act (causes).
    2. Identify the provisions' intended consequences.
    3. Identify which provisions seemed to have had an impact on African-American migration out of the South.
    4. Evaluate, overall, whether the Voting Rights Act had a significant, if unintended, impact (effect) on African-American migration out of the South.
    (Alternatively, students may wish to examine the Structural Adjustments Policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (causes), identify their intended consequences, and then assess the unintended consequences (effects) on African immigration to the United States.)
Assessment

Evaluate students' written assignments on a 20-point scale (which may be multiplied by 5 to convert to a 100-point scale or to letter grades) using the following rubric:

Grading Element/Total Points Excellent (10) Good (9-8) Fair (7-6) Not Satisfactory (5-1) No Work (0)
Written Assignment's Historical Comprehension (10) Demonstrates excellent:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Identification of cause-and-effect
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • Evaluation of impact on immigration
  • Demonstrates good:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Identification of cause-and-effect
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • Evaluation of impact on immigration
  • Shows fair:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Identification of cause-effect relationship
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • Evaluation of impact on immigration
  • Shows little:

  • Historical analysis of information
  • Identification of cause-and-effect
  • Synthesis of information
  • Interpretation
  • Evaluation of impact on immigration
  • No work
    Written Assignment's Technical Writing Skills (10) Shows excellent:

  • Compositional structure
  • Persuasiveness
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Shows good:

  • Compositional structure
  • Persuasiveness
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Shows adequate:

  • Compositional structure
  • Persuasiveness
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Shows inadequate:

  • Compositional structure
  • Persuasiveness
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • No work

    Related Works
    Interdisciplinary Links

    • Language Arts/Drama: The Works Progress Administration's (WPA) Federal Theatre Project helped sustain struggling writers during the Depression. Examples of their works may be found at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/fedtp/. Students will collaborate with language arts teachers to research and write a skit based on the experiences of sharecroppers during the Depression. Then, students either will present the resulting drama in class or on stage or will record the performance.
    • Government/Political Science: Students may conduct additional research on the impact of government programs on African-American life (including migration) during the twentieth century. They may wish to find out about the following:
    Home About Glossary The New York Public Library
    Privacy Policy | Rules & Regulations | Using the Internet | Website Terms & Conditions

    © The New York Public Library, 2005.