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Rewriting History in the Name of Social Justice

Tuesday, the Arkansas House Education Committee denied HB1231. The bill would ban the use of state funds for teaching “The 1619 Project” curriculum.  This controversial curriculum springs from articles from the New York Times.  The bill, if passed, could also trigger the loss of federal funds for schools which choose to teach the 1619 Project curriculum. Republicans and Democrats on the committee were against banning the funding. Some of them stated that it wasn’t the legislature’s job to determine curriculum content and that they might be setting a dangerous precedent. The committee debated this for two hours and heard from several students who are for the 1619 Project. Some of the representatives mentioned in the debate that the Hutchinson Administration was opposed to the bill, as well. If you aren’t familiar with the 1619 Project, it was developed by a journalist from The New York Times Magazine and challenges whether the history of the United States began in 1776.  There is already controversy on when slaves began to arrive in North America, but the 1619 Project focuses on African slaves arriving in colonial Virginia by ship, in 1619, with 20 to 30 people who had been enslaved by an African-Portuguese war in Angola.

Ultimately this bill failed the House Education Committee with a voice vote. Chairman of the committee, Rep. Bruce Cozart, called the vote in favor of the opposition. With as few as only two “yes” votes (inside sources believing those being Rep. Meeks, and Rep. Beck), all others appeared to oppose this legislation.

The House Education Committee is comprised of 17 R’s and 3 D’s:

Chair: R-Cozart

Vice Chair:  R-Evans

R-Beck

R-Bragg

R-Brown

R-Deffenbaugh

R-Fite

R-Hollowell

R-Johnson

R-Lowery

R-Maddox

R-McKenzie

R-Meeks

R-Smith

R-Speaks

R-Vaught

R-Womack

D-Godfrey

D-Love

D-Murdock

With 16 voting Republicans and three voting Democrats and the bill receiving only two supportive votes, where was the lacking conservative support for this bill. Also why was this a “voice vote” only?  No record is being kept of the actual vote tally, as there is none taken. Bills are simply allowed to pass based on the perceived decibel level of the opposing sides combined with the Chairperson’s own biases. This is not just for this committee.  This is the rule for all legislative committees. A lack of transparency on who votes which way on any given bill is wool over the eyes of the voter. Without being able to know how they vote, how will we know how they stand on key issues? Or maybe that is the point.

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