By Corinne Murdock |
A contentious bill to enshrine a critical race theory (CRT) ban in the state constitution, HCR2001, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. No committee Democrats spoke up during their vote, save for one who repeated the same claims made by her party: that CRT tenets were not only supportive of historical fact but critical to K-12 education.
State Senator Raquel Terán (D-Phoenix) said that CRT properly informed children of both the good and the bad of American history. Terán shared that she taught her kindergartener son about the “ugly truths” of this nation’s racial relations with Latinos as a supplement to what he’d learned in school during Black History Month.
“Every child deserves an accurate and honest and quality education no matter the color of their skin or where they call their home,” said Terán.
State Senator Vince Leach (R-Tucson) cited an AZ Free News report of how over 200 Arizona teachers pledged to teach CRT regardless of what the law or school board determined.
“To some degree, I commend them because they signed up and said the truth. Anyone in this room that thinks K-12 education is gaining kids would be mistaken. We’ve lost 40,000 kids [from public schools] through COVID. And they’re not coming back. There’s a reason they’re not coming back. Parents are pulling their kids left and right. Just check your emails, or if you don’t get those emails, talk to me,” said Leach. “And yes, there are spots in our history that are blemished. Some would even go so far, and maybe I would be included, that they are rotten [spots]. And as we see them we take care of them. Granted, not soon enough, but we are a deliberative country set up by our founders and we don’t do things quickly. That annoys people on both sides.”
Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg cited studies that teacher candidates have been screened on their beliefs of CRT tenets as part of their qualifications to teach.
After the vote, State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) dispelled a rumor that the resolution would ban educators from teaching specific parts of hard, “ugly history.” She bemoaned that her Democratic colleagues were accusing Republicans of thwarting efforts to teach history.
“What it does say is that you can’t teach that one race or ethnic group is inherently, morally, or intellectually superior to another race. Cause that’s racism,” said Townsend. “If you could sum this up, it says that you can’t teach racism. You can’t be racist in the way you teach. It doesn’t say that you cannot teach history. Every year it seems like now we’re going through this, where we’re being accused of trying to stop kids from learning our history. That is not the case. We are saying that you cannot guilt a kid because of the color of their skin. You cannot say one race is better than the other. I’m growing weary of it, and I would like some honesty in our discussions, especially from what we’ve heard today. It’s pretty shameful, and if that’s what we’re doing is saying that this bill is about denying history, then I think we need to look at the language of the bill.”