Arkansas lawmakers look to ban topics in public schools

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The bills were first introduced to the house on January, 21. House Bill 1218 would prohibit courses from touching on race, social class, and gender due to concern it would cause division.

While specifics are being reworked, it has prompted a protest at the state capital and divided Arkansas lawmakers.

“Basically we have two schools of thought going around that are embarring racism and embarrassing indoctrination towards kids which is a fundamental problem,” says Republican State Senator, Bob Ballinger. 

Democratic State Senator Greg Leding adds, “I strongly oppose these two bills, If we see them down here on the Senate side I will vote against both of them.”

Robert Maranto at the University of Arkansas says he believes House bill 1218 is written too broadly in certain areas. “If not taught carefully they can both be factually inaccurate and divisive,” says Maranto. 

Because of that, Northwest Arkansas lawmakers have been making different interpretations. “I think it is important that we teach and acknowledge that some people are born into a better situation than others, and I think that is so important when we are trying to craft policy,” says Sen. Leding. 

“I think the fact that people who are born white have more privileges than others is something that the majority of Arkansans think is flat out not true,” says Sen. Ballinger. 

But House bill 1231 is more clear. It would ban the teaching of the 1619 project, a historical theory that the United States was founded on the idea of slavery. Maranto agrees with this bill.

“1619 is just factually inaccurate. There were thirty-four people who contributed to it, only four of them were historians, and none of those were experts in the Revolutionary or Civil War period,” says Maranto. 

If either bill passes, schools could face financial penalties for not following these guidelines.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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