New Orleans The early months of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ tenure as governor of Arkansas have been marked by both confusion and consternation. Sometimes she seems confused and believes she is still former President Trump’s press secretary and trying to sell alternative facts and fantasy as if reality. Other times she seems to think that she is the governor of Florida or that the Natural State wants a political makeover as a wannabe Florida in the mold of its governor, Ron DeSantis, now mounting an expensive but listless campaign for the Republican nomination. Sanders, trying to copycat DeSantis, has hired a bunch of his former staff, she’s gone hard on religious, race, gender, and the other modern, but atavistic, hard right playbook.
Now her state education department has jumped on the very small wagon trying to oppose the College Board’s Advanced Placement curriculum for high schoolers seeking advance college credit in African-American studies. It was a bit of surprise that the new Arkansas state superintendent of education was not a previous Walmart employee, since the Walton’s and their family foundations have been doing their best to run and ruin the school systems in the state, especially in the capital city of Little Rock. Second best, it seems, she had been a senior executive in DeSantis’ Florida department of education.
Move over boomers, school starts no longer wait for Labor Day, so high school students have already enrolled in these classes before the rug was pulled out at six different schools. The state’s action means they will not pay the $98 fee to the College Board and aren’t sure they will even give the course credit to those who can pay their own freight. The Little Rock School District claims it may step up and pay for those at nationally famous Central High, site of the 1957 desegregation battles featuring federal troops.
Arkansas is not Florida and, despite Sanders’ best efforts, is still trying to separate itself from the worst of the Florida extremism. Even Sanders’ so-called victory in passing a ban on critical race theory in Arkansas schools, continued to “protect instruction on the history of race, ethnicity, and sex” as well as allowing teachers to discuss public policy, all forbidden in the landmass between the Atlantic and the Gulf Coast. Even the governor’s comms person tried to wave a white flag claiming the state supports African American history and encourages teaching of “all history” without “opinions or indoctrination.” Small comforts.
KABF, the 100,000-watt “Voice of the People” noncommercial radio station based in Little Rock that we help manage, is going to see if our listeners and friends would be willing to step up and put some of their money where our mouth is and support any students in these six high schools who don’t have the $98 to complete this course.
Florida’s a great state with great people, but when it comes to politics, Arkansas is better than them.