Community leaders outraged over critical race theory order

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 6:57 PM CST
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - A new executive order in Arkansas is hoping to put a stop to certain subjects being taught in school.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders started her time in office by signing an order to prohibit critical race theory in the classroom.

It’s a move some people don’t agree with.

One part of the order says the following:

“Teachers and school administrators should teach students how to think—not what to think”.

Opponents of the order said don’t believe teaching certain parts of history is teaching students how to think.

Now, they plan to fight back.

“Taking it away is muzzling true history, in my opinion,” said Shamal Carter, President of Craighead County NAACP.

Critical race theory, which made its way into schools in 2021, focuses on the concept that race is a social construct, and racism is something embedded in legal systems in policies.

Shortly after its popularity rose, lawmakers began banning the teachings in schools across the country.

“It’s abhorrent that they did that and they want to make it harder for kids to understand our history,” said research scientist and educator Chenoa Summers.

“There is one group of people who feel uncomfortable you are going to take critical race theory out altogether. And then you put our teachers into a predicament where some teachers want to teach about the true history,” Carter said.

Carter said the Arkansas order is hard to digest, as important holidays celebrating history are near.

“You act like racism does not exist,” he said. “I really think that is the basis of taking away critical race theory because you want to make it seem like it does not exist.”

While Sanders explained education would be a top priority during her time in office, some believe this does not help matters.

“It’s just crazy because we have teachers out here not making a living wage, they desperately need a pay raise,” Summers said. “There are so many different issues, but instead, she wants to focus on this one cultural war issue.”

The order does not define what can and can not be taught, leaving that job up to the Arkansas Secretary of the Department of Education.

“They’ve all said, ‘I don’t know what this means for me and my classroom. Can I not say the word slavery, can I not say the word genocide?’ How much leeway am I going to be given,” Summers said.

In the meantime, educators across the state are now waiting for more clarification.