LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It was a couple weeks ago that State Representative Mark Lowery and the Legislative Black Caucus were discussing the merits of HB1231, which would ban schools from using the 1619 Project curriculum.
Lowery said then and also said in the House Public Education Committee on Tuesday that he is not trying to outlaw the teaching of black history, “I believe we would be committing educational malpractice if we did not teach black history.”
The debate was just as robust as it was in the meeting with the Black Caucus. State Representative Reginald Murdock telling Lowery his bill would be telling schools what they can use or not use to teach subject matters. “This bill as you articulate would dictate exactly what could be taught,” Murdock said.
Lowery countered that the state has done exactly that on several occasions, “We’ve done it on computer coding, we did it on personal finance, we did it when we separated the Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King days.”
There were several in the audience who spoke out against HB1231. One Bryant High School student said he looks at social studies as a way students could enhance critical thinking, “My experience with Social Studies if we reduce it to just learning a story and leaving class, it never leaves any kind of impact.”
Lowery says the 1619 Project is full of inaccuracies and what he calls a slanted perspective. One teacher speaking in favor of HB1231 agreed saying, “It wants to teach it from one perspective and you can’t do that in history. Students don’t get an accurate viewpoint.”
One man said schools and school districts should be able to tailor their curriculum how they see fit, “Allow the teachers who’ve been trained, allow those school boards and the school board presidents and chairmen who have been elected and selected, allow them to do the hard work to make those choices.”