There is no question that Legislative 16 House Representative John Filmore has ideas on advancing state education policy.
What is the question is how good they are.
The Arizona Mirror and Eastern Arizona Courier, in a series of articles, has reported that the Apache Junction legislator and House Education Committee Vice-Chair has offered a series of education-related proposals pertaining to:
- Repealing the current state ELL instruction Law.
- Creating a secret school police force called “school marshals.”
- Mandating all students stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Prohibiting teachers from discussing the “economic and social implications” with regards to environmental topics. Mr. Filmore regards any such discussion “indoctrination.”
- Teacher compensation reports.
- Taking away the ability of a teacher to pass or fail a student.
- Getting permission from a local county board of supervisors before joining a lawsuit.
- Allowing teachers to claim an $800.00 tax credit on supplies.
- Requiring students to take a personal finance course before graduating.
- Fining families up to $10.00 a day for their child being habitually truant.
- In-State University Tuition. It would increase under Filmore’s proposal.
- Ending discussion of dating abuse. Mr. Filmore calls it a form of social engineering.
There are actually sound proposals among the ideas Mr. Filmore has put forth.
There is a bipartisan consensus that the ELL instruction law is counterproductive and should be repealed.
Most would agree that the teachers should be able to get a tax credit on the school supplies they are forced to purchase.
Having students take a course in personal finance is a sound and practical idea.
Unfortunately, most of the rest of Representative Filmore’s ideas are something else.
They are frankly bad and some (like forcing children to say the Pledge of Allegiance and having schools get county permission to join a lawsuit) is probably unconstitutional.
Please click on Laurie Robert’s commentary on the Pledge idea here.
As to the other questionable proposals.
Teachers need to be able to give passing or failing grades to students. It would create chaos in the classroom if instructors could not promote these mastery and learning expectations to their students.
Teaching the children about climate science and its implications is not indoctrination. It is current events and scientific fact and today’s children have to live with it and the efforts to rebel against climate change.
College students in Arizona need tuition as free as possible not further increases.
Children should be given proper sex education and social interaction instruction in schools. This is about shaping minds, characters, and hearts. It is not social engineering.
Finally, while some schools may need more resources like school security/resource officers, they probably do not need a secret police/spying force. Only totalitarian governments have those.
Democrats running to serve in the Arizona State Legislature have voiced their concerns with some of Representative Filmore’s ideas.
Legislative Six State Senate Candidate Colonel Felicia French commented on Representative Filmore’s proposal to stop discussion of dating abuse that:
“From 2008 to 2015, Republican leadership in the state legislature led to the deepest cuts in education spending of any state in the nation. As a result of that defunding, Arizona is now ranked as the 49th worse state for public education. To distract from this failed public record, Republican lawmakers continued to introduce unnecessary state legislation.”
“Even though all sex-ed courses in Arizona are age-appropriate and require parents to opt-in, a new Republican-authored bill would block schools from teaching students about dating violence—exposing children to potential sexual abuse dangers.”
“The U.S. Department of Education reports that 12 percent of girls in grades 9 through 12 have been physically forced into sex, and one in three young adults between the ages of 14 and 20 have been the victims of dating violence. Research also shows that nearly half of all physical dating violence occurs on school grounds.”
“Currently, Arizona is one of 23 states that have written policies on dating violence. For once, that has put Arizona ahead of other states in providing quality education.”
“But, not if Republican lawmakers get their way in the 2020 legislative session.”
Legislative District 23 State House Candidate and Teacher Eric Kurland, writing on Facebook about Mr. Filmore’s proposal on Environmental Education stated that:
“This use of the word indoctrination in place of education is a danger to our future. We can live a wonderful today without jeopardizing a better tomorrow. Arizona, we must end the majority party’s assault on science.”
Legislative District 11 State Senate Candidate and Marine Gunnery Sergeant JoAnna Mendoza also offered her views on some of Mr. Filmore’s ideas.
“ As an elected official your primary focus should be introducing legislation that would improve the lives of your constituency. The list of bills that Rep. Filmore intends on introducing the next legislative session reminds me of trying to throw spaghetti up against the wall to see if it sticks. Poorly thought out legislation that in some cases is ridiculous.”
HB 2031- Secretive School Marshalls: “Is he for real? This one has to be a joke.”
HB2017-“Requiring K-12 to stand for the pledge of allegiance. I didn’t spend twenty years of my life in military uniform defending our constitutional rights so that someone could limit our children’s freedom to stand up or sit down for what they believe in. I think that if a student isn’t standing during the pledge of allegiance there needs to be follow on conversation about why and what are we doing as a nation/community that would cause a child to rebel against our American values.”
HB 2021: “Fining parents $10 a day for child truancy. Parents have enough issues trying to make ends meet without adding another financial stressor. There are challenges to getting our kids to school, especially in rural areas. Let’s figure out how to remove the barriers so that our kids can get to school.”
Legislative District State Senate Candidate and Educator Linda Patterson also wrote what she thinks of Representative Filmore’s “School Marshall” ideas, stating that:
“As a retired high school principal, counselor and teacher I am appalled by a bill recently introduced by a legislator that would create a secretive school marshal police force on school campuses. These individuals would be able to carry guns and make arrests in order to intervene in school safety. What concerns me most is this misguided approach ignores the research regarding effective school safety approaches and creates an environment in schools that would further traumatize students and school staff members who are already stressed by practice drills of potential school shooters and the like. It also ignores the importance of building relationships with troubled students in order to prevent school safety issues from the start.”
“The research on students who act out in school settings indicate these individuals have experienced abuse, bullying, rejection by peers, lack of success, are depressed or suffer from other mental illnesses and have experienced multiple disciplinary events. These students need approaches that support and intervene with the goal to support, engage and create new pathways. For the minority of students for which this does not yield results, involving juvenile law authorities is useful. This approach is preventive and works to change behaviors that are maladaptive. And, it works. School safety is accomplished.”
“Our schools are not in need of a secretive and gun touting school marshal. Instead, they need full funding for adequate schoolteachers and smaller class sizes, special education resources, school counselors and social workers, administrators and other school personnel to enact best practices and effective preventive models. Schools like these have a proven record of reducing the causes that make schools unsafe. They also demonstrate a proven record of changing lives for the better!”
It is good that Representative Filmore is a person who has ideas on how to better public instruction.
Those that will indeed help and improve school culture and student performance should be embraced.
The State Legislature should reject those that do not in 2020.
Featured image from Ballotpedia