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Arkansas educators discuss concerns and impact of critical race theory

Arkansas educators share thoughts on new laws that ban critical race theory. (Photo: KATV)
Arkansas educators share thoughts on new laws that ban critical race theory. (Photo: KATV)
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Nationwide, many states are passing laws that ban the teaching of critical race theory, including Oklahoma, Idaho, and Florida.

One Little Rock teacher explained how this topic could have an impact on Arkansas students.

Leron McAdoo is an art teacher and part of the AVID program at Central High School. He said critical race theory is not a real curriculum and the topic focuses on how race plays a factor in our history on critical thinking.

"We need critical dialogue in schools, we need children not to just simply know facts but understand facts in a way that allows them to be full citizens and whole citizens, and understand your neighbor better," McAdoo said.

In Arkansas, the legislation bars state agencies from teaching any "divisive" concepts during racial and cultural sensitivity trainings, including any concept that teaches that the U.S. is an inherently racist nation.

“It is critically thinking about how things affect people in America," McAdoo said. “The reality is certain, race is a part of reality. A lot of times those who are not affected by racism don't see how racism is a reality for those that it is a factor for."

According to McAdoo, the concept is not harmful to teach in the classroom and he believes these laws are being passed by people who do not understand its significance. He said this topic is not for the benefit of one group of students but for all Arkansans to help build a more cohesive future.

Arkansas Baptist College professor, Edmond Davis, said he is concerned that critical race theory laws could make their way to higher education.

There are four historically Black colleges and universities in the state, three of them are private institutions and one is public. Davis said the critical theory laws could impact public HBCU’s across the country.

"You're talking about three-plus million college students that would have that at the table as something that can bargain with or not,” Davis said.

On Monday, Senator Tom Cotton and Senator John Boozman introduced a bill to defund the 1619 project curriculum. The project is an initiative that reframes U.S. history by putting the legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at its center.

Davis said he doesn’t support defunding the bill.

"We don't want this project 1619, this critical race theory, we don't want this to become the new 21st century Tulsa riots if you will,” Davis said. “Where people are just now finding out 100 years after the fact."

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Davis said he is disappointed that the two Arkansas senators introduced to defund the project, but said educators must continue to teach the initiative to its students.

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