Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne (R) announced Thursday that he is launching the “Empowerment Hotline” (EH) so constituents can call in reports of students receiving alleged inappropriate teachings in the classrooms.
“I promised to establish this hotline so that anyone could report the teaching of inappropriate lessons that rob students of precious minutes of instruction time in core academic subjects such as reading, math, science, history and the arts. That promise is being kept,” Horne said.
The Arizona Sun Times reached out to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) for additional information but did not hear back before publishing time.
According to the ADE, this hotline is meant for Arizonans who have experienced Critical Race Theory (CRT), gender ideology, social emotional learning, or “inappropriate sexual content.” Constituents can provide feedback, concerns, or complaints via the phone (602)-771-3500 or by emailing [email protected]. The hotline will be staffed during regular business hours, but after-hour messages will still be followed-up on.
Specifically, Horne said he is combatting CRT being taught in the classrooms. He emphasized his belief that it is being taught in Arizona K-12 schools because of a pledge reported by AZ Free News. The Zinn Education Project (ZEP) created this pledge which asked teachers to commit to teaching CRT in the classrooms, even if it were to become outlawed. The pledge currently has 8,667 backers, including over 200 teachers from Arizona.
“They would not have signed if they were not already teaching it,” Horne said. “They come from 25 school districts, including the largest ones. Teachers must teach academics, not use their power over a captive audience, to promote their personal ideology. That is unprofessional conduct.”
Additionally, Horne called CRT an “irrational” ideology that divides students into “oppressor” and “oppressed” categories based on their race. He stated that ideologies like this do not belong in Arizona classrooms.
Furthermore, the Arizona State Legislature made an effort this session to prevent CRT from being taught in schools. State Sen. J.D. Mesnard introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1305, which would have prevented teachers from promoting that one person is superior to another based on race, or that one race is ethically superior to another, but Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) vetoed it.
A mirror bill also existed in the House, HB 2458, sponsored by State Representative Beverly Pingerelli (R-Peoria). After Hobbs vetoed SB 1305, Pingerelli released a statement saying Hobbs sent a “disturbing” message.
“Governor Hobbs’ veto sends a disturbing message that she is willing to allow racially divisive curriculum to be intentionally taught in Arizona classrooms,” said Pingerelli. “This sort of ugly, prejudicial ideology presents a distorted and destructive history and worldview that exacerbates racial tension and anxiety within our children and society.”
State Representative @BevPingerelli: Hobbs’ Veto Protects Instruction of Racially Divisive Curriculum in Arizona Schools.
“Governor Hobbs’ veto sends a disturbing message that she is willing to allow racially divisive curriculum to be intentionally taught https://t.co/TBwhrj7q0G… https://t.co/RaDX17gkoi pic.twitter.com/EAWy9qJHgR
— Arizona House Republicans (@AZHouseGOP) March 9, 2023
Moreover, as reported by The Sun Times, gender ideology promotion is another issue in classrooms around the nation. The parental rights organization Parents Defending Education (PDE) released a report Tuesday listing school districts that have “gender nonconforming” policies where a teacher can keep a student’s preferred gender identity a secret from the parents. According to the report, the Mesa and Tucson Unified School Districts have such policies. In total, the PDE said these policies could affect over 3,000,000 public school students nationwide.
In other education news, Horne announced Tuesday that his administration is working with the State Board of Education to update the Universal Empowerment Scholarship Account program handbook to improve user experience and ensure compliance with the law.
– – –
Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Tom Horne” by Tom Horne.