Walmart Promoted Critical Theory in Arkansas Public Schools: Report

A news report at the Washington Free Beacon highlights how corporate giant Walmart pushed public schools in Arkansas to implement policies based on critical race theory, beliefs about implicit bias, and similar ideologies.

The report is based on public documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

The article notes,

“Walmart was pushing on an open door when it offered to connect Bentonville school administrators with the Racial Equity Institute, the same consulting group that conducts the company’s own diversity training sessions. The district’s superintendent, Debbie Jones, and its director of secondary education, Jennifer Morrow, accepted the offer in July 2020, according to emails reviewed by the Free Beacon, scheduling a mandatory training for all teachers that August.

“It is not clear whether Walmart paid for that training or merely facilitated it. What is clear is that Walmart approved its contents. One workbook from the training was emblazoned with Walmart’s logo and included a “welcome message” from the company’s diversity office, which billed the workshop as a “powerful and thought-provoking” program “facilitated by experts from the Racial Equity Institute.”

“The session was a grab bag of DEI shibboleths. It listed “perfectionism,” “a sense of urgency,” and “worship of the written word” as examples of “white supremacy culture”; described “assimilation” and “tolerance” as markers of “internalized racial inferiority”; and defended racial preferences by saying that white people had “400 years of affirmative action.” Participants were asked to reflect on each teaching using the Walmart-approved workbook, which included diagrams on the distinction between “equality” and “equity.””

You can read the entire article here.

This story underscores why it is so important that the Arkansas Legislature addressed critical theory and implicit bias training at public schools during the 2023 legislative session.

Act 237 of 2023 — the LEARNS Act — is the omnibus education law by Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) and Rep. Keith Brooks (R – Little Rock). The law helps prohibit critical race theory in Arkansas’ public schools. It also protects elementary school children from inappropriate sexual material at school.

Act 511 of 2023 by Rep. Mindy McAlindon (R – Centerton) and Sen. Kim Hammer (R – Benton) prohibits schools from requiring employees to participate in implicit bias training or training designed to expose an individual to biases or attempt to use the training to change the employee’s point of view.

Together, both of these laws will help address situations like the ones highlighted in this story.

This story also is yet another example of Walmart and the Walton family promoting values that are out of step with most of Arkansas.

Besides encouraging public schools to support critical theory, the Walton family and Walmart both have championed ideas that Arkansans simply do not support.

For example, in 2015 Walmart opposed good legislation that would have protected religious freedom in Arkansas.

In 2021 Walmart opposed legislation protecting healthcare workers’ rights of conscience.

The company also supported so-called “hate crimes” measures that created special, protected classes of citizens in Arkansas.

In 2021 Family Council learned the Walmart Foundation — which is well known for providing millions of dollars in grant money to charities in Arkansas and across the nation — had begun asking grant applicants if any of the charity’s leaders, board members, senior staff members, and staff members identified as gay or transgender.

And last year Walmart announced it would pay for employees in states like Arkansas to travel for abortions in other states.

The Walton Family Foundation has opposed Arkansas’ SAFE Act that protects children from sex-reassignment procedures, and it helped provide $1 million for grants to pro-LGBT groups in Arkansas.

That grant money has helped pay for pro-LGBT activities directed at youth in places like Little Rock.

Walmart and members of the Walton family are using their wealth and influence to push progressive initiatives and divisive ideologies in Arkansas. Fortunately, the state legislature has taken some steps to push back against this agenda. It is likely that more will need to be done in the future.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.

Education Committee Passes Bill Addressing Implicit Bias Training in Public Schools

On Wednesday the Senate Education Committee passed a bill addressing implicit bias training in public education.

In recent years, some educators around the country have expressed concerns about employee training programs that presume educators are unconsciously biased or prejudiced.

H.B. 1559 by Rep. Mindy McAlindon (R – Centerton) prohibits public schools in Arkansas from mandating implicit bias training for their employees.

It is a good bill that will help complement the LEARNS Act’s provisions that prohibit critical race theory in public schools.

H.B. 1559 passed with overwhelming support in the Arkansas House of Representatives on Monday, and the Senate Education Committee passed it on Wednesday.

The bill now goes to the entire Arkansas Senate for a vote.