In dueling developments affecting public school instructors, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs used her veto pen to protect teachers from harassment while Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne set up a hotline to do just that.

The common denominator: The teaching of accurate history which the right masquerades as conveying critical race theory.


Today, Governor Hobbs vetoed Senate Bill (SB) 1305, a measure that would have, had it become law, provided enough wiggle room for reactionary zealots, despite clauses pertaining to teaching episodes of historical persecution and genocide, to claim teachers were making white children feel like guilty parties for past crimes white people committed against other ethnicities.

In her veto letter to Senate President Warren Petersen, the Governor conveyed:

“It is time to stop utilizing students and teachers in culture wars based on fearmongering and unfounded accusations. Bills like SB1305 only serve to divide and antagonize.

I urge the Legislature to work with me on the real issues affecting Arizona schools: underfunded classrooms, a growing educator retention crisis, and school buildings in need of repair and replacement.”

Marisol Garcia, the leader of the Arizona Education Association issued a press release after the Governor’s veto, stating:

“SB1305 would have subjected teachers to investigations, disciplinary action, and even thousands of dollars in fines just for teaching the truth. Endless attacks like SB1305 are part of the reason that so many Arizona schools struggle to retain qualified, passionate educators. We’re glad that Governor Hobbs vetoed SB1305, and we look forward to working with her to ensure that our schools are fully funded and our students and educators have what they need to thrive.”

Before Governor Hobbs issued her veto pen on SB1305, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne issued a release announcing he was creating a hotline where the same reactionary zealots that applauded SB1305 could call and claim their child’s teacher was offering lessons dealing with critical race theory.

Calling this an “Empower Hotline,” the Superintendent relayed:

“Some say critical race theory (CRT) is a graduate study, not taught in K-12 schools. The evidence is to the contrary. I have a list of 250 Arizona teachers who signed a shocking statement promoted by the national teachers’ union, that if critical race theory were banned, they would defy the law. They would not have signed if they were not already teaching it. 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. 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.”

There are over 60,000 teachers in public school classrooms in Arizona. If Mr. Horne’s McCarthyite right-wing news account is accurate, that means there may be less than one-half of one percent of instructors in the Grand Canyon State teaching CRT.

Commenting on Mr. Horne’s hotline, Save Our Schools Arizona Executive Director Beth Lewis offered:

“We are disappointed that the Arizona Department of Education is dedicating public resources to a hotline aimed at vilifying teachers. Superintendent Horne needs to focus on the desperate needs of public schools, which are a shocking $4.5 billion behind the national average, instead of a politically motivated witch-hunt against our state’s dedicated educators.”

Again, even if Mr. Horne’s source is accurate, that hardly constitutes a need to create a special hotline or pass divisive legislation that makes teachers feel like they have to constantly look over their shoulders for an irate parent that knows nothing about what they are talking about.

If one of these instructors (again less than one-half of one percent of all Arizona’s public school teachers) was deliberately saying white children were bad because their ancestors supported slavery or championed segregation and immigration limits, there is not one Social Studies Department Chair, Principal or School Superintendent in this state that would not discipline that person. Those guidelines already exist in every public school district. No one needs to reinvent the wheel here.

As the Governor said in her document, public schools are facing several crises including teacher recruitment, funding gaps, and buildings in need of repair and modernization.

Students are also facing a historical illiteracy gap. Children need more history, not less history in their educations. That includes the good and bad episodes of the human experience.

It is astounding and sad that Tom Horne, a person whose commendable crusade to create State History Standards when he was first Superintendent (This writer was a member of the educating teams that created those standards) has taken a Jekyll and Hyde approach to historical literacy.

Students can not have the great history education Horne says he is for without taking into account all aspects of the human adventure including what negative actions some groups did to others on the basis of race or socio-economic status or religion or tribal affiliation.

Children can not receive a well-rounded education if those lessons were left out. Teachers should not be afraid to teach them as long as they do not deliberately say the child or their families are bad for being part of the group that committed the bad acts.

It is that simple and there are more critical needs in education to address than this bogus and divisive matter that is virtually nonexistent.