In one of her first moves as governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued an executive order that targets the teaching of race in classrooms, requiring the state to review its policies to snuff out what she says is teaching that would “indoctrinate students with ideologies” such as critical race theory.
Critical race theory is an academic concept that looks at how systematic racism has impacted American laws and institutions. The idea has been under intense fire from conservative lawmakers, who point to it as a tactic that instills anti-American values in children.
The executive order by Sanders bars teachers from talking about race in certain ways in the classroom, including the idea that one race is superior or inferior to another. The action puts the newly-sworn in governor in a long line of conservative executives and lawmakers that have sworn to squash the theory.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has emerged as one of the party’s leading right-wing voices, signed into law a bill that banned critical race theory in the state in 2022. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in 2021 that limits how teachers can talk about race in the state, aiming to ban the teaching of the theory.
“Critical Race Theory (CRT) is antithetical to the traditional American values of neutrality, equality, and fairness,” the executive order from Sanders said. “It emphasizes skin color as a person’s primary characteristic, thereby resurrecting segregationist values, which America has fought so hard to reject.”
The order from Sanders is also a culmination of work from state lawmakers in Arkansas that sought and failed to pass to get a bill to law that would ban critical race theory in the state.
Sanders was sworn in as governor on Jan. 10 and was met with a message of encouragement from former President Trump, saying in a social media post that she “is a fantastic person and will be a truly incredible Governor.”