On her first day in office, incoming Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders turned up the heat on the culture wars. She issued seven executive orders, one of which bans “critical race theory” (CRT) from being taught in Arkansas’ K-12 schools.
No one actually knows whether anyone was trying to teach kids a concept usually reserved for law students, but that didn’t stop Huckabee Sanders from banning it, just on the off chance.
Arkansas is no stranger to educational gag orders, but lawmakers’ efforts to prevent the teaching of accurate history had previously failed. In 2021, former state representative Mark Lowery, now state treasurer, led an unsuccessful effort to ban CRT in public schools.
A separate bill preventing other state agencies from offering diversity training discussing “divisive concepts” passed the legislature in 2021. Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson allowed the bill to become law without his signature.
As reported by the Associated Press at the time, Hutchinson said, “The bill does not address any problem that exists, and the paperwork and manpower requirements are unnecessary.”
That didn’t stop his successor from tackling what appears to be a non-existent problem. As Little Rock’s KATV reported, “There is little to no evidence that critical race theory itself is being taught to K-12 public school students, though some ideas central to it, such as lingering consequences from slavery, have been.”
Fayetteville journalist Mike Allen had this to say about the executive order:
Maureen Kelleher is Editorial Director at Future Ed. She was formerly Editorial Partner at Ed Post and is a veteran education reporter, a former high school English teacher, and also the proud mom of an elementary student in Chicago Public Schools. Her work has been published across the education world, from Education Week to the Center for American Progress. Between 1998 and 2006 she was an ...