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Arkansas bill that would ban 1619 Project in schools fails in committee

A proposed bill that would have banned the use of public school funds to teach the 1619 Project in Arkansas schools has failed to make it out of committee.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A proposed bill that would have prohibited the use of public school funds to teach the 1619 Project curriculum has failed to make it out of an Arkansas House committee.

House Bill 1231, introduced by State Representative Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle), was titled as the "Saving American History Act of 2021" and claimed the project was "racially divisive" and "revisionist account of history."

The bill failed to make it out of the House Education Committee after many people objected to the proposal for different reasons, including Education Commissioner Johnny Key.

RELATED: Educators fight back on bill to remove 1619 Project from being taught in Arkansas schools

"If we are made aware that something is being taught out of standards, we have to look into that. We're not aware of any Arkansas school using the 1619 Project as part of curriculum," said Key. 

There were those who spoke against the bill included not only those who believe it holds racist undertones directly targeted at African American history, but who would be affected by the bill. 

Kylie Cross has been a social studies educator for 13 years and says she's for the bill. She read through the 1619 Project and stated there were falsehoods in the historical accounts before the Education Committee.

"Just from me looking at it, there's things that aren't exactly accurate. The 1619 Project from my perspective just wants to teach from one perspective and you can't do that in history," said Cross

Eighteen-year-old Jack Clay was a recent Bryant high school graduate speaking for the first time in front of a committee against the bill. He says that perspectives should always be shared because one way or another, historical accounts are always one perspective.

“My experience with social studies has always been that if we reduce it to just learning a story and leaving class, it never leaves any kind of impact," said Clay.

Representative Lowery stated his opening by explaining what the bill is not because he says there's misinformation out there. It doesn't take away the teaching of Black History and the bill isn't saying you can't teach about the 1619 Project.

“The lead essay proclaims that our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. That our history as a nation rests of slavery and white supremacy whose existence made a mockery of the Declaration of Independence’s self-evident truth that all men are created equal," said Lowery. 

He also pulled a companion bill that would have restricted courses based solely on race, gender, class, and political affiliation after the vote.

“It’s a different perspective. Well that’s fine, but in presenting different perspectives, you don’t just say that the other perspectives are wrong," he said.

We will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

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