Do you know if southern states had/has a policy of not teaching history, particularly Civil War history?  Arkansas sure did! Very shocking.  What about in Minnesota?  I haven’t a clue about it, and need to check it out.

We’re down here in Arkansas for thanksgiving, and went to a HUGE bookstore, Once Upon a Time Books, and of course got some books, including “Arkansas: A Narrative History,” and it reports that Arkansas had/has a failing public education system, many of the WWII enlistees were returned home because they were uneducated, illiterate, that the public schools weren’t doing the job was not news.  One area wasn’t just “failing,” but intentional misdirection.  The state of Arkansas specifically did not have much of anything in the way of academic state history books, just a state historical journal, until the 70s or so, and in the public schools, the state specifically did not require teaching of history from the 60s until 1990s!

The history of the Civil War that was taught was “Dunning-Phillips” pro-slavery notion of slavery as benevolent and educational.  This went on for generations.  WHAT?!? So reading this book was shocking, even just the quick skim in the tent, yes, shocking, to put it mildly.  I quickly ordered it for a friend/client here in Arkansas who is from New York and struggles with aspects of life here. I was blessed in MN at Central HS with a social studies teacher from SNCC, we had classes like Radicalism in America, The Draft, Comparative Education, and there was a Civil Rights history class just around the corner.  And at Metro State U, Chuck McDew taught Civil Rights era history.  These were important parts of my education for a white grrrrl from the near-burbs. My partner Alan tells me that textbooks had “Northern” and “Southern” versions.  I’m stunned.

This fact that history was not taught in Arkansas, and what was taught was so skewed, says a lot about why people don’t know history.  It’s bad enough in the north, but to have not taught history for decades in Arkansas, and before, to have taught such twisted history, no wonder ~700 yahoos show up in Russellville for a Confederate flag rallyGiven this history, it’s easy to see how reality can be regarded as Fake News.  Ugh… 

Is the history of history in Arkansas common to other southern states?  And across the U.S.?  Is there a broad pattern of failure to teach history?

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