• The ADE made a last-minute cancellation of AP African American Studies courses from approved AP curricula.
  • After a weekend of mostly ignoring the media, Secretary Jacob Oliva responded to LRSD Superintendent Jermall Wright and the ADE responded to the Arkansas Times.
  • Oliva’s story to Wright contradicts ADE’s story to the Times in important ways, but is consistent in stoking the flames of culture wars.
  • This behavior is a tactic straight from the Sarah Sanders propaganda playbook.

The removal of AP African American Studies from approved Arkansas courses came at the last minute and without warning. Now the Arkansas Department of Education is responding with propaganda and culture wars. What else is new?

The ADE spent the weekend quiet about their decision. It wasn’t until Sunday that the Superintendent of the Little Rock School District told staff he had spoken to ADE Secretary Jacob Oliva.

In short, Superintendent Jermall Wright reported that Oliva’s reasoning for the removal of the course was twofold: (1) students can’t receive college credit for it because it still being piloted by the College Board, and (2) the class being called “African American Studies” vs “African American History” is an issue.

The Arkansas Times first broke the statement from Wright and addressed both of these points. The fact is, many AP classes are already not guaranteed to be accepted at colleges or universities. The University of Arkansas accepts the course.

It seems as though “African American History” is more palatable to their far-right hivemind than “African American Studies.”

Oliva’s second issue is one of culture war semantics.

This culture war bit is just about the only element of Oliva’s statement to Wright that is somewhat consistent with this morning’s statement from the ADE to the Arkansas Times. The rest is vague and contradictory.

The ADE’s story from this morning is more pointed and in line with the Sanders propaganda playbook— i.e. fear mongering about indoctrination in schools.

The statement says African American Studies is “not a history course” and it could “put a teacher at risk of violating Arkansas law.” The law being referred to here is likely the indoctrination provision found in LEARNS, which states “School Districts and Open-Enrollment Charter Schools must complete and submit an assurance document annually ensuring that no public school employee or public school student shall be required to attend trainings or orientations based on prohibited indoctrination or Critical Race Theory.”

This is, of course, not happening in AP African American Studies. But it’s helpful to Sanders’ education department to pretend that it is.

The Sarah Sanders Propaganda Playbook exists to silence the opposition, control the narrative, and stoke a culture of fear. This last-minute play leaves students and teachers without a plan for the coming school year, while promoting her playbook and grabbing more power to run Arkansas into the ground.

Together we’re going to tell the State Board of Education we want better for students, teachers and schools. Sign the petition below.