Thanks to a group of students at Edmonds’ Madrona K-8 School, the Washington State Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee voted Thursday to pass SB 5174, which encourages the instruction of the history of the civil rights movement in our state’s schools.
The proposal is the brainchild of The MLK Group, a team of fourth, fifth and sixth graders at Madrona K-8 in the Edmonds School District. The group studied the civil rights movement in preparation for an assembly celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. day. They were inspired to share what they learned and wanted to encourage others to understand the history of civil rights in our country.
One of the students, Chase Simerka, decided to ask Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-32nd District, his grandmother and legislative representative, to help the group create a law encouraging learning about civil rights history. “This idea belongs to the whole group,” Simerka said.
In a joint statement, The MLK Group said: “We think we are lucky that we live in this time, and we have freedoms here. We think it is important to learn about places and times that don’t have the freedoms we share. If people don’t learn about the Civil Rights movement, people could take it for granted. This might lead to the same things happening again. We also learned that kids can make a difference, and we want other kids to know they can too.”
On Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Chase introduced SB 5174. The bill was granted a hearing, and the students were able to participate through a live conference call and video presentation. When the bill was voted on in committee, the class erupted into cheers.
“I am very proud of the work this group of kids has done, meeting during recesses and after school time to work on this project,” said Judi MacRae, the group’s advisor.
The bill now goes to the Senate floor for a vote. The students plan to travel to Olympia to lobby for final passage of their Bill.