GRAPHIC | Tara Espinoza
January 16th. Martin Luther King Jr. day. All federal and state run agencies take a day off to honor the late civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Children spend days in class learning about King from his legendary “I have a dream speech” to the day he was assassinated.
Less than a week before this celebration of black history, Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed one of her first executive orders as governor of Arkansas to essentially ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory or anything deemed similar. As students of a public school, The Arka Tech opposes this ban.
First and foremost, we believe this order was motivated not only by political bias, but also by misinformation and misunderstanding of critical race theory.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic construct that examines the role race and racism plays in the American institutions, laws, and history. However, over the years the term has been misconstrued into a catch-all phrase for any lesson or policy that touches on systemic racism.
Critical Race Theory is not meant to “indoctrinate” students anymore than the pledge of allegiance is. It is meant to provide perspective to students on their history and their society just like all studies of history do.
Additionally, If the topic of race was not a campaigning chip then CRT would be looked at no differently than any other academic construct. However, It has been used by various politicians in various states, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as part of their campaigns for office.
The Arka Tech believes CRT is a valid and harmless method of teaching history. We find it to be hypocritical for Sanders to bar “teachers from delivering certain messages about race, such as that one race is inherently superior or inferior to another,” according to The Washington Post.
If she is concerned about encouraging racism in schools then it would only make sense for her to allow teachers to educate students on racism in American history.
Sanders said that “As long as I am governor, our schools will focus on the skills our children need to get ahead in the modern world, not brainwashing our children with a left-wing political agenda.”
However, the Arka Tech believes that limiting education is one of the biggest methods of “brainwashing” children with a political agenda.
Not only that, but CRT is already not a part of any state curriculum and never has been in Arkansas. Arkansas legislation did pass a limit on discussion of race and sex in state employee training, but without the signature of then-governor Hutchinson.
Hutchinson’s reason for not signing this law was that the bill did not “address any problems that exist” and called the measure “unnecessary.” We can see that the same goes for this executive ban.
It is not addressing any problem in Arkansas. It is not fixing any harm being done. It also does not greatly benefit any citizen of Arkansas, except for those who gain political profit from it.
The validity of Critical Race theory aside, The Arka Tech opposes this order because we value our freedom of education and we value the freedom of our educators.
Politicians like Sanders and DeSantis are not teachers. They do not have degrees in education. We believe that state educators, who are certified in education, should have the freedom to choose their lesson plans and learning materials.
Too often today are teachers and students restricted by people outside of schools. Bans like this only open the door for more restrictions on what students are taught about history and about the society we live in.
If the United States is not careful, our education system may come to resemble those of the authoritarian countries that we so despise.