The state's historians are deeply lamenting HB 1262, by Paris Republican Jon Eubanks, that, according to Arkansas History Education Coalition President Tom Dillard, "essentially guts the requirement for Arkansas history continuing education standards for teachers."
Years ago, when I was first reporting on the efforts by historians to provide adequate teaching of Arkansas history in the state's public schools, I was told by one teacher that there was no Arkansas history. Got that? There's nothing in our state's past that anyone needs to know or would find interesting. This teacher was not someone who understood the meaning of history. This state did not spring full-blown from the head of Zeus. It has a rich past, from prehistory to now. It has a place in the South. It is connected to the world. There is as much history here as any place on earth.
I mentioned this problem to a friend of mine at the time who is from Massachusetts. She was shocked. Can you imagine Massachusetts school districts shrugging off history? Screw Plymouth Rock. Or in our case, de Soto. Yawn, right? And all that Civil War stuff. And Civil Rights stuff. A president. Bor-ring.
HB1262 removes the requirement for in-service training for history teachers and replaces it with hours in vaguely defined "professional development" to be offered in 2016. It has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate.
What is wrong with the Arkansas Department of Education that it sees no value in the teaching of history? Is it because it's not tested? Pitiful.
More from Dillard:
I think it is safe to say that the future of Arkansas history education is threatened...as are all the social studies. [Geography was dropped by the state in 2007, and Arkansas history would have been eliminated then too, except the Arkansas History Education Coalition was able to stop it.]