Arkansas governor signs critical race theory ban


Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ executive order, signed January 10, 2023, adds Arkansas to the 17 other states who have banned the teaching of critical race theory (CRT). This order is unnecessary, insensitive, and unjustifiable. CRT, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “a set of ideas holding that racial bias is inherent in many parts of western society, especially in its legal and social institutions, on the basis of their having been primarily designed for and implemented by white people.” The reason so many states are banning this theory, according to, is because they “fear that CRT admonishes all white people for being oppressors while classifying all black people as hopelessly oppressed victims.”  Additionally, according to, state leaders see this topic to be divisive and, according to, an opportunity for teachers to “indoctrinate” their students with this ideology. 

Sanders’ executive order states, “Schools must educate, not indoctrinate students; and their education policies must protect children and prepare them for the workforce” and that “CRT is [contradictory] to the traditional American values of neutrality, equality, and fairness.” The problem with these bans is that K-12 schools are not teaching CRT, and these bans are not focused on protecting children, they are focused on erasing history.

In my 12 years of being in public school, I have never once felt like a teacher has indoctrinated me about any of the subjects we learn, and my peers seem to agree. In an anonymous survey, 90.6% of students say that their teachers allow them to form their own opinions on the subjects they discuss in class. Furthermore, the survey revealed that 93.9% of students have never had a teacher make them feel responsible for an event or trend of events in history, and 93.9% of students have never had a teacher make them feel separated or isolated from the rest of their class based on race. These concerns of division and indoctrination are irrelevant to Arkansas schools. 

Additionally, Sanders’ legislation is flawed because CRT is too advanced of a theory to even be taught in K-12 schools. Only 21.2% of students have ever explicitly discussed CRT in any class and all of these students discussed it in an AP or college level class. The only reason we’ve discussed this theory in class has been because of the absurdity of banning it. Teachers are discussing these bans and allowing students the opportunity to assess whether they view it as a violation of their educational rights or not. These bans are not passing because schools are teaching this theory, they are passing because state leaders want to erase history. 

 I hate to break it to you Sarah, but banning a theory that is not even being taught in our schools is not going to erase our country’s systematically racist past. The truth is, American history is not simply full of sunshine and rainbows, and that is something we have to understand and take into consideration for the future. The “traditional American values of neutrality, equality, and fairness” that Sanders tries so hard to uphold would not be possible without the men and women who have stepped up and had uncomfortable conversations. The governor herself, the first female governor of Arkansas, would never have achieved this honorable milestone for our state if not for the women who came before her who were not afraid of stepping out of the comfort of the norm. Understanding the severity of the mistakes our nation has previously made, regardless of how messy or divisive they are, is the first step in preventing these mistakes in the future. We cannot hide away from history, just because it makes us uncomfortable, and assume it won’t repeat itself. Banning critical race theory from being taught in schools is so alarming because these states are not truly concerned about protecting children. These bans are an appeasement for conservatives who view CRT as a big bad villain to the vulnerable minds of the youth, and yet have no idea what the theory is really about. Whether this executive order was enacted out of a genuine concern for children, a desire to erase Arkansas’ uncomfortable past, or an attempt to win over the favor of conservatives in her first days in office, it is still a slap in the face to educators, students, and the men and women who have progressed our nation into a more fair and equal society.