On December 12, 2018, Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem (R), introduced to the Arizona State Legislature House Bill 2002. According to The Arizona Daily Star, for engaging in political or ideological discussion in the classroom, teachers stand a chance of losing their jobs. The bill would ban teachers from speaking to students about “controversial issues” or engaging in the advocacy of political, ideological, or religious views in the classroom.
I always become curious when I see a publication quote choice words instead of full statements. So I decided to locate and read the bill for myself. What I found were blatant spins of the true intent of the bill by every publication I read. Keep in mind that when I research I truly remain objective with no bias involved. I say that to say I did not seek to find in which political direction any publication leans. I prefer to get the truth from the horsed mouth, if possible, and in this case the horses mouth is the bill itself. I truly take being a messenger for the people seriously and responsibly. I have no interest in spinning the truth!
According to the actual text of H.B. 2002 Sec. 15-505 A. “The State Board of Education, in cooperation with the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall adopt rules to provide for an educator Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility”. Section A goes on to state, “This section shall: 3. Prohibit teachers in taxpayer supported schools from engaging political, ideological or religious advocacy in their classrooms”. Contrary to what I have read elsewhere, H.B. 2002 does not bar teachers from publicly expressing opinions related to legislative, judicial, or executive actions, or from expressing support or opposition to candidate or nominees for public office.
The text of the bill explicitly states, the rules adopted pursuant to this section shall provide that a teacher may not do any of the following during class time or while otherwise operating within the scope of employment as a teacher in a “Public Educational Institution” endorse, support or oppose any pending, proposed or enacted legislation, rule or regulation on a local, state or federal level. As stated previously, other publications have reported that a teacher would be barred from publicly expressing opinions on such issues. The actual text of the bill contradicts those reports.
Teachers are not gagged in public nor the classroom. It’s all about the presentation and delivery of what is said in the classroom are acting in the official capacity as an educator. Teachers can express their opinions on such issues in the classroom if the opinions are presented in a “Manner in which students understand that students may make independent decisions and disagree with the teacher without incurring any penalty”. H.B. 2002 also recognizes the roll racism plays in our classrooms and among educators. Teachers may not segregate students according to race or single out one racial group of students as being responsible for the suffering or inequities experienced by another racial group of students.
Online journalists have quoted Finchem as saying the bill is to prevent indoctrination in the classroom, and that teachers should focus more on teaching students how to think, not what to think. While I do agree that indoctrination takes place in our classrooms, I do not agree with misrepresenting anyone’s words. Finchem’s comments in the bill say exactly this…
“A. The legislature finds and declares that:
1. The purpose of public education in Arizona is to produce knowledgeable and competent adults who are able to participate as informed citizens in the democratic process of selecting representation in our constitutional republic.
2. Education in a democracy is best served by teaching students how to think, not telling them what to think. Our country is divided over many issues affecting its citizens. It has been established through surveys that a majority of K-12 teachers discuss controversial issues in their classrooms.
3. It has been established that some teacher training institutions, teacher licensing agencies, state education departments and professional teacher organizations have condoned and even encouraged this behavior under the guise of “teaching for social justice” and other sectarian doctrines. Time spent on political or ideological indoctrination takes time away from instruction in the academic subjects taught by public educational institutions, including the foundational subjects of mathematics, science, English, history and civics, and prevents students from receiving the best possible public education as funded by the taxpayers of this state.
4. Parents and taxpayers have a right to expect that taxpayer resources will be spent on education, not political or ideological indoctrination.
B. The legislature invites this state’s professional teacher organizations and unions to voluntarily adopt an educator code of ethics and professional responsibility that incorporates the principles of section 15-505, Arizona Revised Statutes, as added by this act, and that specifically prohibits teachers in K-12 schools from using the classroom for political indoctrination.”
Be careful what you read and research issues for yourselves!