In recent weeks, the Arkansas government has been in a standoff with various school districts in the state over offering Advanced Placement African American studies. As the showdown over the curriculum continues, Arkansas has now demanded that schools pledge not to incorporate critical race theory into their curricula.

The clash between Arkansas schools and the state government began when the Arkansas Department of Education called schools on August 13, just two days before the start of the school year, to inform them that it would not recognize AP African American studies. The decision to deny AP credit for the African American studies course, which was launching as a pilot in Arkansas this school year, was incredibly controversial given that classes like AP European history are still being recognized by the state.


In reaction to this abrupt and seemingly biased decision, several school districts ⁠— including Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jonesboro, Jacksonville and eStem ⁠— announced they would still offer the African American studies course, even if the state denied it AP credit. In response to that decision, Arkansas Secretary of Education Jacob Oliva sent a letter to the school districts on Monday, warning that the state government “is concerned the pilot [course] may not comply with Arkansas law, which does not permit teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies, such as critical race theory.” The letter goes on to demand that the districts “submit all materials” related to the course for review by the state government. It also calls on the school districts to provide a “statement of assurance that the teaching of these materials will not violate Arkansas law or rule.”

The move by Arkansas to oppose African American studies reflects other actions the state government has taken in recent months and mirrors efforts by other Republican-led states. Earlier this year, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders implemented several conservative policies, including a statewide review of critical race theory “indoctrination,” on her first day in office. Sanders has used similarly charged language to defend her government’s decision against AP African American studies, telling Fox News that “we cannot perpetuate a lie to our students and push this propaganda leftist agenda teaching our kids to hate America and hate one another.” Sanders’ government rejecting AP African American studies follows a similar move made by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration earlier this year.

Attempts to restrict Black history’s teaching and demonize the so-called critical race theory will likely remain primary Republican plans for some time. That strategy seems to be breeding defiance from educators who won’t simply give in to these tactics.