The closing of our schools this past Monday was only one of many events that took place across our country in recognition of the leadership and contributions made to the cause of civil rights in the nation by Martin Luther King Jr. The occasion was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday created in memory of those accomplishments and a day intended to cause to drop and reflect on the issues of civil rights and equality.
It was Aug. 23, 1968, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C, when Dr. King spoke the words that have reverberated through the years when he said “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the contract of their character.”
Because education is the ultimate civil right as well as the great equalizer, each child has the right to be educated. It is the intent of education to ensure that every child becomes a strong student, a well-adjusted person and a contributing member of society regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic status. It is the right thing to do for our students and necessary for our community and nation.
It is important that all students receive quality instruction in a rigorous, relevant and meaningful curriculum and they be held in high expectations. Our staff must take respectability for their success and we continue to work hard to make that happen though we’re not quite there yet. Not all of our students succeed as, is the case nationwide, some of this lack of success unfortunately still takes place along gender, race, and socio-economic lines.
There is no doubt that our community wants our students to have an effective education. Evert employer wants the best employees available. The availability of a large number of skilled employees helps our community to grow economically. That means that all students must be well-prepared regardless of their status.
Nationally, education plays a key role in developing citizens who will recognize that our society is composed of people with different backgrounds rather than people belonging to specific subgroups. Our children need to know who they are and what makes them special. They also need to understand that differences based on gender, race and socio-economic status are merely things that make each of us special.
Those things that unite us serve to make us a nation. Thus civil rights unite and strengthen us as does equality. An excellent education system can help to make that happen. An excellent education system is responsive to student differences and is mindful of the ultimate goals of education making it passionate about making quality education available to all students regardless of status. I believe that our system is responsive, mindful and passionate. I feel that even though we night not yet be where we need to be we are working on it. The memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his efforts and accomplishments provides us with a beacon. We need to keep that beacon in sight.
n Johnny Hunt is the superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County.