Reconstruction and Public Education

Mar 4, 2018

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, Arkansas ratified its fourth constitution, beginning an era of Reconstruction following the Civil War. Although Arkansas appears to have developed an historical amnesia about Reconstruction, jumping as swiftly as it has from sesquicentennial commemorations of the Civil War to the centennial of World War I, Reconstruction was arguably more important than both of those events. One of the key achievements of Reconstruction was the establishment a free public schools system in Arkansas. Though the public schools were segregated from the outset, there was a Reconstruction law that explicitly required school districts to provide black children with facilities equal to those provided to white children. In 1874, Arkansas abandoned Reconstruction and adopted its fifth constitution, the one that remains in effect today.