A recent article in Time magazine discussed some of the problems with education and summer vacation. The article says that academics are concerned that children lose much of what they have learned during the school year because of the long break between the last day of one school year and the first day of the next school year. The problem is worse for children who are economically disadvantaged. Here in Wake County, however, it appears that the school board is taking some steps to keep students engaged. No, I’m not talking about calendar revisions or summer school programs – I’m talking about the direct lessons the Board is imparting to kids.
Their first lesson came before the school year had ended. It was this important civics tutorial: It is important to vote. No matter what side of the diversity/school excellence debate you stand on, it must be conceded that one side won because people voted for them. Poor voter turn out makes a difference.
Lesson # 2 provided students with an all-too-real field trip through history to the period when segregation reigned. They have seen members of the community arrested in acts of civil disobedience because they refused to have their voices silenced. They have also heard people called “outside agitators” as if the fight for civil rights is only a local issue.
In lesson # 3 students are learning that, even in a participatory government, if people do not exercise their rights, their representatives can and will try to do their business in secret and discourage dissent. They have seen the school board create onerous restrictions so that opposing views would not be heard or even allowed to enter the building.
Lesson #4 is an inspiring one. Students are learning that in 2010, people will still march for their rights. Let’s hope it will inspire them to read about other civil rights marches that took place in the South before they or their parents were even born. Perhaps then, they will wonder why there is still a need to march against re-segregation of schools 56 years after Brown v. Board of Education.
With any luck, the Board’s summer lessons, will spur kids to ask their parents to take them to Shaw University to see where the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was created. They can see that students in Raleigh have been fighting against segregation in this state and throughout the South for 50 years.
Unfortunately, students have to learn these lessons because it appears that some powerful grown-ups have not learned from history at all.