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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 13, 2016 01:12 PM
From: Representative Tarah Toohil and Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood
To: All House members
Subject: Educational Instruction in Observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Tuesday, Rosita Youngblood and myself will be introducing legislation to require our public schools to provide instruction on the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to all students. Last year my school district did not close their doors in observance of this holiday. Although, Dr. King’s birthday is a federal holiday, I was surprised and disturbed to find that individual school districts have the authority to pick and choose which days they have school closures for an observance like this one.

Worse yet, my own children came home from school that day and all four of them reported that Dr. King was not mentioned over the loud speaker and not a word was said about him that day. This important legislation will make sure that the important life’s work of Dr. King is not forgotten and that all of our children have an opportunity to learn about him.

This legislation will require all public schools to provide instruction on the contributions of Dr. King during the week of the federal holiday marking his birthday. It will also require the Department of Education to make instructional materials related to his life and the history of the American civil rights movement available to public schools on its publicly accessible website.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most influential leaders in American history. A catalyst for great change, Dr. King used the power of oration and acts of nonviolent resistance to be a courageous force against injustice and racial inequality. Dr. King inspired a movement for civil rights and social justice that spread across the nation and continues still today. He remains the only non-president to have a national holiday dedicated in his honor. With that in mind, we believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that our students have the opportunity to learn about Dr. King’s contributions so that they can better understand his legacy, particularly at a time during year when our country commemorates his birthday.

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Introduced as HB1795