UNITED STATES NEWS

Arkansas cannot prevent 2 teachers from discussing critical race theory in classroom, judge rules

May 8, 2024, 10:40 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled Arkansas cannot prevent two high school teachers from discussing critical race theory in the classroom, but stopped short of more broadly blocking the state from enforcing its ban on “indoctrination” in public schools.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky issued a narrow preliminary injunction Tuesday evening against the ban, one of several changes adopted under an education overhaul that Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law last year.

The prohibition is being challenged by two teachers and two students at Little Rock Central High School, site of the 1957 desegregation crisis.

In his 50-page ruling, Rudofsky said the state’s arguments make it clear the law doesn’t outright “prevent classroom instruction that teaches, uses, or refers to any theory, idea, or ideology.”

His ruling prohibited the state from disciplining the teachers for teaching, mentioning or discussing critical race theory — an academic framework dating to the 1970s that centers on the idea that racism is embedded in the nation’s institution. The theory is not a fixture of K-12 education, and Arkansas’ ban does not define what constitutes critical race theory.

Rudofsky said although his ruling was narrow, it “should give comfort to teachers across the state (and to their students) that Section 16 does not prohibit teachers from teaching about, using, or referring to critical race theory or any other theory, ideology, or idea so long as the teachers do not compel their students to accept as valid such theory, ideology, or idea.”

Rudofsky said his decision still would bar the teachers from taking steps such as grading on the basis on whether a student accepts or rejects a theory or giving preferential treatment to students on whether they accept a theory.

Both the state and attorneys for the teachers claimed the ruling as an initial victory in ongoing litigation over the law.

“We are very happy that the court has acknowledged that the plaintiffs have brought colorable constitutional claims forward,” said Mike Laux, an attorney for the teachers and students who filed suit. “With this notch in our belt, we look forward to prosecuting this incredibly important case going forward.”

David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law — also representing the plaintiffs in the case — said the ruling “has essentially gutted Arkansas’ classroom censorship law to render the law virtually meaningless.”

Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin said the ruling “merely prohibits doing what Arkansas was never doing in the first place.”

“Today’s decision confirms what I’ve said all along. Arkansas law doesn’t prohibit teaching the history of segregation, the civil rights movement, or slavery,” Griffin said in a statement.

The lawsuit stems from the state’s decision that an Advanced Placement course on African American Studies would not count toward state credit during the 2023-2024 school year. The teachers’ lawsuit argues the state’s ban is so vague that it forces them to self-censor what they teach to avoid running afoul of it.

Arkansas is among several Republican-led states that have placed restrictions on how race is taught in the classroom, including prohibitions on critical race theory. Tennessee educators filed a similar lawsuit last year challenging that state’s sweeping bans on teaching certain concepts of race, gender and bias in classroom.

United States News

Associated Press

Three little piggies at a yoga class = maximum happiness

SPENCER, Mass. (AP) — Three little piggies went to a yoga class. Their human companions had a blast. Wilbur, Charlotte and Bluey fit right into a growing trend of yoga with animals, adding some fun to the usual physical and mental wellness exercises at a class in central Massachusetts. Darting and strolling among the yoginis […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

You didn’t think summer travel would be easy, did you? Highways and airports are likely to be jammed the next few days as Americans head out for Memorial Day weekend getaways and then return home. AAA predicts this will be the busiest start-of-summer weekend in nearly 20 years, with 43.8 million people expected to travel […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

5 dead and nearly 3 dozen hurt in tornadoes that tore through Iowa, officials say

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — A deadly tornado that wreaked havoc in the small city of Greenfield, Iowa, left four people dead and nearly three dozen injured, officials said, while a fifth person was killed elsewhere. The twister that tore through the city on Tuesday was rated at least an EF-3 by the National Weather Service […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Thousands of journalists have fled homelands due to repression, threats and conflict, UN expert says

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Thousands of journalists have fled their home countries in recent years to escape political repression, save their lives and escape conflict – but in exile they are often vulnerable to physical, digital and legal threats, a U.N. investigator said Wednesday. Irene Khan said in a report to the U.N. General Assembly […]

6 hours ago

Javier Cazares, center, stands with families of the victims in the Uvalde elementary school shootin...

Associated Press

Families of Uvalde school shooting victims file $500 million federal lawsuit against Texas state police

The families of the victims in the Uvalde school shooting in Texas filed a $500 million federal lawsuit against 92 state police officers.

7 hours ago

Javier Cazares, center, stands with families of the victims in the Uvalde elementary school shootin...

Sponsored Content by

The families of the victims in the Uvalde school shooting in Texas filed a $500 million federal lawsuit against 92 state police officers.

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Arkansas cannot prevent 2 teachers from discussing critical race theory in classroom, judge rules