Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Lest We Forget -- or Just Get It Wrong
This is the 50th Anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School, and you'll be hearing and learning more about it between now and September. Some of it will even be true, but, unlike math, history is not an exact science. Arkansas history has been subject to manipulation by those who wish to shape the present. The standard Arkansas history textbook of the 1950s touted the benefits of segregated schools. The Hussman-owned Arkansas Democrat-Gazette routinely overplays the glories of our state's civil war history and consistently offers up revisionist history of the Central High crisis that praises the action of former Governor Orval Faubus.
The Arkansas History Education Coalition recently said that proposed changes to state education guidelines will water down the teaching of Arkansas history in public schools. Led by Dr. Tom Dillard, former Senator David Pryor, and UA History Chair Jeannie Whayne, the group has advocated greater emphasis on Arkansas history. The Hussman-owned Northwest Arkansas Times agrees with them and has editorialized at length about the grave error they felt the Arkansas Department of Education is making in reducing the amount of state history our young people learn in school.
Just yesterday, an editorial in the Times ended a sentence with a preposition and said, "Our young people shouldn’t be allowed to escape 12 years of publicly funded education without first realizing where it is they come from." As if to underscore that point by example, the editorial writer emphasized that our young people need to understand "why the Little Rock Seven ought to be thought of as heroes."
"Make no mistake about it: Ignorance of state history is on the rise," declared the unnamed editor with conviction. How very true. I always thought it was the Little Rock Nine.