Arizona House Passes a Bill Prohibiting Teachers from Promoting Judgment Based on Race or Ethnicity

The Arizona House Floor passed a bill Wednesday that addresses how teachers can discuss topics of racism in classrooms.

“We’ve heard that this [Senate Bill (SB) 1412] is going to keep us from teaching real history. Later language in the bill specifically says that this [bill] does not prevent teachers from identifying and discussing historical movements, ideologies, or instances of racial hatred or discrimination, including but not limited to slavery, Indian removal, the holocaust, or Japanese American internment. If a teacher can’t teach these things without placing blame or judgment on the basis of race, they shouldn’t be teaching,” said State Representative Michelle Udall (R-Mesa) in defense of SB 1412.

SB 1412, sponsored by J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), lists ways a teacher cannot racially discriminate within a classroom. The list includes judgment based on race or ethnicity, promoting the idea that one race is morally superior to another, an individual’s race determines their moral character, and an individual bears responsibility for the past actions of other members of their race.

Under SB 1412, students, parents of students, or employees of public schools can file a complaint against a teacher who violates the bill.

“For each day that a person violates this section, the court may impose a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 per day on the public educational institution where the violation occurs,” according to the bill text.

Other House members explained why they approved of the bill during the voting process.

“This bill, very simply, bans the promotion or advocacy of seven vile, racist actions. When you ban the promotion or advocacy, you do not ban the explanation. You do not even ban the condemnation of racism,” said State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills), while explaining his aye vote. “We’re simply stopping people from advocating. We’re stopping white supremacists from teaching our children, black supremacists, or anyone who believes that race or ethnicity makes somebody less of a person or more of a person. Teachers can say that’s bad under this law, and we stop people from saying it’s good.”

State Rep. John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) also gave SB 1412 an “aye” vote.

“The reason I support this bill is because, A, Critical Race Theory (CRT) is being taught in the state of Arizona. Project [1619] is being taught at Vale school district right now. I have filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office because of it,” said Fillmore.

With a vote of 31 “ayes,” 27 “nays,” and two “no votes,” SB 1412 passed the Arizona House and will move back to the Senate.

Arizona is not the only state addressing CRT in classrooms. Last month, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) signed House Bill (HB) 2670. Similarly to SB 1412, HB 2670 prohibits teachers from promoting ideas that one race is superior to another.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for the Arizona Sun Times and Star News Media. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “J.D. Mesnard” by J.D. Mesnard. Photo “Classroom” by Wokandapix.


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