The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) is eliminating social-emotional learning and other “woke” initiatives from its administration, with an eye on barring it from schools entirely.
ADE Superintendent Tom Horne explained his vision during an interview with “The Conservative Circus” on Thursday. Horne said that leftist agenda initiatives took away critical funding from teacher salaries.
“The money should be going to teachers’ salaries, and not, as we say, ‘woke’ ideology,” said Horne.
Horne said that social-emotional learning, sexualized curriculum, and critical race theory (CRT) had nothing to do with academics.
“The nonsense is producing the low test scores. If we focus on academics, we can bring the test scores back up,” said Horne.
Arizona students have struggled to perform well in tests over the last few years: a sharp downturn in achievement from forced school closures amid the pandemic following years of general decline.
Last October, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed in a report that students suffered severe learning losses in math and nominal losses in reading due to the COVID-19 shutdowns. In September, ADE revealed that a majority of Arizona students were still failing the statewide assessment.
In response to critics alleging Horne operated out of racial animosity, Horne disavowed claims of racism and noted that he’s been a longtime supporter of Civil Rights. Horne participated in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington in 1963.
Horne’s first moves in office included purging ADE of initiatives by former Superintendent Kathy Hoffman: sex chat rooms for minors, such as “Queer Chat”; the division on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI); and references to social-emotional learning.
“The word ‘equity’ in common-use of the English language is a very positive word,” said Horne. “But what they’ve done with Critical Race Theory is they’ve made it into a negative word: it is the desire that we have equal outcomes by racial groups which doesn’t recognize individual merit. I believe in individual merit.”
The Office of EDI contained the Office of Indian Education (OIE), which administered federal and state program resources for Native American students;
As part of ADE’s annual conference that began on Wednesday and concludes Friday, ADE eliminated presentations on social-emotional learning and racial trauma, as well as diversity and equity.
ADE spokesman Doug Nick said that these events didn’t address core academic issues: namely reading, science, and math. Nick said that teachers tell ADE that they oppose prioritizing SEL in the classroom.
“[Teachers] disagree with being compelled to use social-emotional learning curriculum instead of teaching core subjects,” said Nick.
During his campaign, Horne declared “war” on CRT and other “woke” curriculum championed by former Superintendent Kathy Hoffman.
“[CRT is] venal racism, and its war against merit and achievement, which if not stopped, will make us a third world country,” stated Horne.
Arizona State University (ASU) has placed men’s urinals in women’s restrooms.
The woman who discovered one of these installations, Rachel Hope, was at ASU’s Art Building. The urinal was located inside one of the enclosed stalls next to a regular toilet. Hope is the vice chair of the East Valley Young Republicans.
ASU allows students to use restrooms according to their gender identity. Those opposed to this policy may be in violation of ASU’s anti-discrimination rules. ASU’s Academic Affairs Manual (ACD) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
These two choices are considered protected characteristics. ASU encourages students to report any violations of this policy through the Office of University Rights and Responsibilities (OURR) and Title IX officials.
Directly underneath the policy stating that ASU allows students to use restrooms according to their gender identity, the university includes a direct link for reporting discrimination.
Those found in violation of ASU’s anti-discrimination policy may include firing for employees, or suspension or expulsion for students. Those not enrolled or working for ASU may be subject to other legal penalties, if pursued by ASU.
Title VII protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This interpretation of federal law was determined by the Supreme Court in 2020 through Bostock v. Clayton County.
Gov. Katie Hobbs recently enacted a similar policy through her first executive order, declaring that the state may not discriminate against gender identity when hiring.
ASU completely supports transgenderism. In addition to its policies and guides prioritizing LGBTQ+ ideology in the classroom, ASU helps advance that lifestyle elsewhere.
As AZ Free News reported previously, ASU began reimbursing employees and their dependents, children, up to $10,000 for gender transition procedures. They’re joined in this health care policy by the University of Arizona (UArizona).
ASU Educational Outreach and Student Services provides a page dedicated to transgender-specific resources. In addition to a guide informing faculty and staff on advancing inclusivity of transgender individuals, the resource page directs students to gender-inclusive housing, gender-neutral housing, health services, name change links, voice therapy, and both local and national resources for advancing transgenderism.
However, activist students have found these accommodations insufficient. Last April, students complained that gender-inclusive housing, launched in Fall 2016, forced them to endure an insensitive application process which deadnamed (identified them by their birth rather than preferred name) and misgendered them.
On Wednesday, the city of Phoenix rescinded the NFL’s authority to regulate free speech via signage throughout the Super Bowl season. The city’s resolution, issued Wednesday, followed their court loss last week in Paulin v. Gallego, in which a resident challenged the city’s resolution granting the NFL authority to approve or deny residents’ signage.
The change comes with less than one month left to go before the Super Bowl.
The city has a significant financial incentive to cater to the NFL’s requests. When the city last hosted an NFL game in 2015, they experienced a $700 million boost. Gallego toldScripps News this month that they anticipate over one million visitors to the downtown area.
“These events and activities will bring significant revenue and media exposure to the City of Phoenix during the event period,” stated the city’s original resolution.
In anticipation of this lucrative opportunity for exposure, the city enacted a resolution in October granting the NFL and Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee the authority to reject signage within a “clean zone” constituting two square miles in downtown Phoenix.
Direction on whether existing signage had to remain was unclear: the city issued contradictory instructions on its website, in one post declaring that temporary signage had to be removed by last Halloween, while another post declared that the signage rule didn’t take effect until Jan. 15.
Additionally, the city’s signage rule applied to all types of signage: menus, political yard signs, and trespassing warnings. The ordinance only left alone any permitted permanent signs — not temporary ones.
Local business owner Bramley Paulin challenged the city’s initial resolution; the rule prevented him from advertising on his property. Paulin wanted to advertise to the upwards of 1.5 million people anticipated to attend a nearby music festival in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Yet, any potential business partners told Paulin they could not advertise on his property since he was in the city’s “clean zone,” and they were considered non-NFL partners.
In an email exchange, Coca-Cola informed Paulin that they would receive a cease-and-desist letter if they attempted to advertise within the “clean zone.”
Any business seen as competition to the NFL couldn’t advertise — effectively giving the NFL a monopoly over their allotted downtown area.
In response, Paulin sued the city with the help of the Goldwater Institute. In the lawsuit, the Goldwater Institute asserted that the city’s ordinance gave power to unaccountable private actors and stripped Paulin of his right to limited, accountable, and transparent government.
“The [city’s] resolution further violates the separation of powers by giving the NFL and the Hosting Committee unchecked power to make decisions about Arizonans’ constitutional rights, without the panoply of safeguards by which citizens can hold their governments accountable, such as public hearings, record requests, and elections,” stated the lawsuit.
A trial court judge issued a temporary injunction on the city’s ordinance; a more permanent block of the rule was contingent on the city removing it completely in Wednesday’s meeting.
The Goldwater Institute noted on its online profile of the lawsuit that cities in recent years have begun enacting similar, restrictive “clean zone” ordinances to cater to mega-events like the Super Bowl.
A Northern Arizona University (NAU) study declared that America needs to cooperate with China more for climate change.
The lead author of the study, Hubert Cheung, advocated for greater cooperation with the communist country. In addition to being adjunct faculty in NAU’s School of Earth and Sustainability, Cheung is part of the University of Tokyo in Japan as well as the University of Queensland in Australia. Cheung grew up in Hong Kong, China.
“We need to cooperate with China if we are to find effective solutions to climate change, for illegal wildlife trade, for sustainability transitions,” stated Cheung. “Understanding the Chinese leadership’s core strategic interests—and where political will already exists in Beijing to deliver on these strategic interests—will help conservation scientists and practitioners find opportunities and manage challenges.”
The paper’s abstract advocated for increasing China’s political power in order to advance sustainability and conservation. The paper went on to issue a defense of the Chinese government’s core interests, such as maintaining its current level of authority over its citizens and expanding its power onto the global stage.
“‘[A]n environmentally healthy and secure China can benefit the world, and this will only become more apparent over the course of the 21st century,’” stated the paper. “The scale and reach of China’s environmental footprint — and global geopolitical influence — is such that an exploration of its leadership’s political agenda and political will is valuable and timely for conservation.”
The other NAU researcher involved in the study, Duan Biggs, is also part of the same school as Cheung. Biggs indicated that sustainability efforts were the way to brokering a unified front between governments.
“The environment and conservation represent an opportunity for soft-diplomacy and for countries and societies to maintain dialogue and collaboration despite growing tension,” stated Biggs.
The only researcher hailing from a Chinese university was Tien Ming Lee. He’s a professor at the State Key Laboratory of Biological Control and Schools of Life Sciences and Ecology at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.
The other researchers hailed from Japan, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Africa.
The World Economic Forum (WEF), the leading organization attempting to create a new world order of global governance, identifies China as a leader in combating climate change on an international level. The WEF Global Future Council is also attempting to increase trust in China as a world leader.
Last year, China’s President Xi Jinping opened up the WEF’s annual meeting in Switzerland by calling on stronger international cooperation in overcoming COVID-19, revitalizing the economy, and addressing climate change. Jinping encouraged more open relations between all nations, not less.
“We should remove barriers, not erect walls. We should open up, not close off. We should seek integration, not de-couple,” said Jinping.
The WEF invented the social credit score system — similar to the one used by the Chinese government currently. China keeps a database on its citizens to ensure compliance with government interests.
A Scottsdale superintendent said that the white race is problematic, and that meritocracy is a lie.
These comments, and more, came from Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Superintendent Scott Menzel in a 2019 interview given while he was a superintendent in Michigan. His remarks remain in line with his current beliefs, based on local reporting on his performance in the district over the last two years.
“There’s a misperception that educational equity is really only for ethnically and racially diverse districts. But White people have racial identity as well, and in fact problematic racial identity that we typically avoid,” said Menzel.
Menzel advocated for dismantling the current educational system and replacing it with a system based on racial equity and calling out privilege.
“[White people] should feel really, really uncomfortable, because we perpetuate a system by ignoring the realities in front of us, and living in a mythological reality,” said Menzel. “In this country it’s about meritocracy. ‘Pull up yourself by your bootstraps, everybody has the same opportunity.’ And it’s a lie.”
Menzel said that the chaos of riots and public conflicts, such as the Charlottesville incident, affords “liberal progressive” actors such as himself “the opportunity to dismantle, disrupt, and recreate” society into a more socially just and equitable design. He noted that school funding shouldn’t be equal; rather, it should be equitable based on kids’ needs.
“[White supremacy is] in the very fabric of the way this country was established, and we’ve never righted the wrongs of the genocide of the indigenous population, and the enslavement of a population from Africa on which the wealth of this country was built,” said Menzel.
Arizona legislators decried the superintendent’s remarks as racist.
State Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-LD03) said that Menzel should issue an apology and be terminated from his position immediately.
“The racist words and sentiments expressed by Scott Menzel have no place in education in Scottsdale or anywhere else,” said Chaplik.
Menzel became the SUSD superintendent in July 2020 amid the George Floyd riots. He was formerly a superintendent for various districts throughout Michigan: Washtenaw Intermediate School District, Livingston Educational Service Agency, and Whitmore Lake Public Schools. While at Washtenaw, Menzel was named Superintendent of the Year.
Just prior to becoming a superintendent, Menzel was the director of career development for a district in a county well known in conservative politics: Hillsdale County, home to Hillsdale College.
Menzel has long advocated for prioritizing equity and other social justice approaches to reforming education. While in Michigan, Menzel advanced efforts to institute social-emotional learning, race theories, and equity.
Menzel said in a 2015 equity panel that schools should have a “cradle to career education continuum,” resonant of the controversial “cradle-to-grave” approach former President Barack Obama proposed during his re-election campaign in 2012.
Before migrating to Arizona, Menzel was awarded with honors and positions of power defining educational standards.
In 2013, the White House honored Menzel as a YMCA Champion of Change, one of 12 nationwide to receive the honor. The following year, the Michigan Department of Education added Menzel to their Great Start Advisory Council, which defined policy issues on early childhood education.
SUSD has been mired in controversy since Menzel assumed leadership. Last year, the district posted the names of individuals online who submitted records requests, but redacted staff members’ names in response to those requests.
This policy concerning records requests occurred after media attention on SUSD’s past records requests. Last summer, SUSD provided a parent with blank patient intake forms for a Phoenix hormone and gender transition facility in response to a request concerning a high school librarian and the Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) Club.
Menzel defended a staff member for discussing gender ideology with kindergarten and elementary students. Menzel accused upset parents of Civil Rights violations for speaking against the staff member’s actions. He also previously defended staff members who encouraged childhood exploration of gender and sexual identities through GSA clubs.