Mississippi…yes, Mississippi…will become the first state to teach civil rights history in all grades. If that’s not a sign that progress can happen anywhere, I don’t know what is.
Soon, civil rights lessons be will required for students from kindergarten to 12th grade all across Mississippi.
A civil rights/human rights curriculum becomes mandatory in all public schools for the 2011-2012 school year, five years after Gov. Haley Barbour signed the requirement into law.
Civil rights is typically a part of social studies programs in the nation’s public schools. State officials believe Mississippi is the first state to require civil rights studies throughout all grades in its public school systems. Mississippi education officials say the change took some time to implement because they waited to include it in the revision of the social studies framework that was scheduled for 2011.
This is something Arkansas ought to do. The value of history is that it enables us to learn from the past so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the future. Forgetting history tends to lead to bad things. That’s why when you read the Bible and find the verse that says (and I’m paraphrasing a bit here) “There arose a generation in Egypt that knew not Joseph” you know the Jews are screwed. For our part, how many schools in Arkansas don’t emphasize Martin Luther King Day but instead list it as “staff development” or some other such misnomer? How much about the civil rights movement gets emphasized to Arkansas students? We have a rich civil rights history in this state ranging from the Little Rock Nine to the Forrest City Riot but how many Arkansans actually learn about that in grades K-12? It’s time for that to change.