Yesterday, when I picked up my guys from preschool, I asked Jackson, "What did you learn today?" I ask both of my kids that every day on the ride home. Usually they tell me that they can't remember or that they don't know. They are only three and four after all. But I hear I should expect that same answer in elementary and high school as well. Anyway, back to the point. Jackson's answer was different this time and it was exciting to hear. He said he learned about "Luther Martin" - obviously he meant Martin Luther King.
My interest piqued quickly. I said, "What did you learn about MLK?" He said, with a strong voice, arms raised and all five fingers pointed, "WE ARE EQUAL!" I told him he was right! He asked for clarification as to what equal means and I told him that if someone is allowed to do something, say, like a kid wants to play Superheroes (that's what he is focused on 24/7) everyone can play Superheroes... even babies and grandparents. He nodded and said it again, "EVERYONE IS EQUAL!"
I thought about our conversation later that night and smiled to myself that my very young children can understand the concept of equality. We teach that in our home, but the reinforcement in the classroom makes me proud of the school my children attend. And to me, it means even more than that. This provides an effective anti-bullying lesson. Jackson's teachers didn't talk about bullying during the MLK conversation, but the concept is clear. I hope this will remain with my children and I plan on making it a high priority.
And isn't it timely? Just this week, the governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed a bill making California the first state in the nation to add lessons about gays and lesbians to social studies classes in public schools. The landmark bill requires public schools to include the contributions of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in social studies curriculum. In a statement the governor said, "History should be honest. This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books."
So I say, "Hooray!" I know we have a lot of work ahead of us as a society, but we are making strides. Beginning in preschool and continuing all the way up to state government... and beyond we CAN teach our children what Martin Luther King wanted us all to LIVE.
This post was originally published in 2012.