Arizona Senate Education Committee Passes Curriculum Transparency Bill

Arizona Senate Education Committee Passes Curriculum Transparency Bill

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Senate Education Committee passed a bill to ensure K-12 schools afford greater transparency to parents concerning the content and adoption procedures for curriculum and all other learning materials. The bill, SB1211, passed 5-3 along party lines. 20 states have introduced similar legislation; the Wisconsin legislature passed a similar bill last year but their governor vetoed it; most recently, the Indiana House moved another similar bill forward. However, no other state has the same legislative language as SB1211. 

Specifically, the 14-page bill would require schools to post online in a searchable manner all learning material adoption procedures as well as the content organized by subject, grade, and teacher. The specified learning material covered requires readings, videos, audio, digital materials, websites, instructional handouts, worksheets, apps, assemblies, guest lectures, civics assignments or projects, and service learning projects. Any educational materials concerning nondiscrimination, diversity, equity, inclusion, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, bias, action-oriented civics, service learning, or social and emotional competencies must be referenced in full online at least 72 hours before implementation. Materials outside that scope must be posted online within a week of their implementation and remain accessible on the site for two years. The bill also would require schools to allow all throughout the school day as well as a half an hour before and after school hours for textbook review prior to adoption.

Parents could seek redress for violations of this bill by first submitting a complaint to the school principal. If the principal doesn’t investigate and respond within 15 days, or the response doesn’t solve the issue satisfactorily, parents could submit a complaint to their school board. If the board doesn’t respond adequately or at all within 25 days, then parents may take legal action against the school’s governing body. No teachers would be subject to punishment.

State Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) insisted all she was introducing was a “simple […] common-sense transparency bill.” Barto clarified that the bill would allow parents a heads-up about what their children would learn. 

“So many parents are so frustrated at not having access to what their children are learning in schools. There are so many things that are accessible online now, and curriculum needs to be one of them,” said Barto. 

Parent after parent highlighted personal and local incidents concerning willful lack of transparency from their schools and districts. In addition to parents, the Arizona Coalition of School Board Members and Heritage Action for America showed up to support the bill. A handful of teachers, most of them masked, and the Arizona Education Association (AEA) spoke out against the bill. They argued that the bill would create an undue burden on teachers and districts, foster distrust and malcontent between parents and teachers, and even further reduce educational quality. The Arizona Charter School Association (ACSA) was also reportedly against the bill, according to State Senator Gonzales, but none of their representatives gave testimony before the committee on Tuesday.

The first to provide public commentary on the bill was none other than Nicole Solas — the Rhode Island parent sued by her state’s teacher’s union, the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI) for her public record requests and represented by the Goldwater Institute, the Phoenix-based conservative public policy and litigative think tank.

Solas told the committee that her story was a cautionary tale of what occurs when a state doesn’t have academic transparency. Her story began when she requested information about the education her daughter would receive, and learned that the school taught about gender at every grade level in “age-appropriate ways,” as well as teaching five-year-olds on the first day of Thanksgiving what could’ve been done differently during the pilgrim’s Thanksgiving. When Solas attempted to ask more questions about the curriculum, her school told her to submit public records requests. After doing so, the school board of her district put her name on the agenda of a public meeting with a threat to sue her for her records requests. 

Solas recalled how the five hour meeting was filled with public harassment and open debates on her moral character and motivations by the board members. Solas shared further that her district then hired a public relations firm to defame her in the national media. The local teacher’s union then decided to sue Solas for filing those records requests. Even after enduring all of that eight months later, Solas said her original requests have gone unanswered. All she received was outdated curriculum; the district told her she hadn’t asked specifically for the current curriculum.

“What they did to me was government abuse of power just because I wanted to know what was being taught,” said Solas. “This is a kafkaesque, bureaucratic problem with a very easy academic solution.”

It wasn’t just the blame from the district that presented a problem to Solas — it was the cost of the records requested. Solas insisted that the cost to districts to fulfill public records requests was unnecessary, and that public schools needed to be protected from squandering their education dollars.

“Pass this bill for public schools and you can save them from themselves. We need our education dollars to be spent on students, not on a petty stand-off between schools and parents,” said Solas. “These are the games they play with public records requests. Our children’s education is not a game.”

Majority Leader Rick Gray (R-Sun City) said Solas’ story was heartbreaking to hear, and expressed condolences for the plight of New Jersey’s children. 

“They wanted to send a message that if you want transparency […] they will retaliate against you and punish you for asking for transparency,” relayed Solas.

State Senator Christine Marsh (D-Phoenix) asked Solas if New Jersey had a parental bill of rights similar to Arizona’s. She added that she didn’t understand what Solas’ issue had to do with Arizona schools. Solas said they don’t have anything like that in her state, and informed Marsh that the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute is representing her for the lawsuit.

Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg offered insight from Arizona teachers in support of the bill. He read a letter from Jessica, an English teacher, who described how she covered over 70 absences in one week and insisted on the bill because it provided an “easy safeguard” for creating a “workshop” between families and schools. 

“This bill is pro-student, pro-parent, and pro-teacher,” asserted Beienburg.

State Senator Tyler Pace (R-) asked what a pragmatic solution would be, instead of this bill. Thomas said the best solutions would be at the local level. He said parents already had “a lot of tools” to get the transparency they need.

“The unintended consequence of this is that kids are going to suffer in that their interests aren’t going to be explored at any given instance during the day,” asserted Marsh.

Gray pressed AEA President Joe Thomas, who insisted that better answers were to be had, to give them a tangible solution. Thomas couldn’t. Instead he repeated that parents had the tools to investigate the curriculum themselves. Gray insisted that wasn’t enough of an answer.

“When we see this as a legislative body and this is brought to us, it is our responsibility to see what we can do to solve this problem. Ideally we would never get this problem here because the schools would take care of it,” responded Gray. “We don’t have any solutions from the education industry, but we clearly have problems from the parents.”

In closing public remarks, Beienburg cited how an AEA spokeswoman last year reported that she submitted curriculum materials regularly to her district officials for review.

“That’s indicative of the fact that this is doable,” said Beienburg.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Physicians Applaud Ducey, Barto For Medical Graduate Transitional Training Permit Bill

Physicians Applaud Ducey, Barto For Medical Graduate Transitional Training Permit Bill

On May 10, Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 12 71 into law, increasing the long term supply of fully licensed physicians. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Barto, passed both chambers with bipartisan support.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons applauded Ducey and Barto for their work on SB 1271, which they say “puts in place commonsense reforms that benefit benefit patient care facilities, medical graduates, and patients in Arizona in both the short and long term.”

SB 1271 directs the Arizona Medical Board (AMB) and the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery (ABOE) to grant a one-year transitional training permit (transitional training permit) to qualified applicants.

The bill also establishes training permittee eligibility, qualifications, permitted duties and supervision requirements.

Physician say the new law offers expanded options for those who unmatched graduates, who currently have no opportunities to train or serve. For facilities, say the physicians, SB 1271 increases the pool of “high caliber individuals available to serve under supervision.”

The physicians believe the reforms also benefit residency programs as they strengthen the skills of future applicants.

Senate Committee Passes Revised Sex Ed Parental Rights Bill

Senate Committee Passes Revised Sex Ed Parental Rights Bill

By B. Hamilton |

On Thursday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, in a party line vote, approved HB 2035, legislation that will strengthen parental input in the Sex Education curriculum offered to their children. A previous version of the bill, SB 1456, passed this year, but was vetoed by Governor Doug Ducey.

According to Sen. Nancy Barto, sponsor of SB 1456, the issues brought forth in the governor’s veto formed the basis of the new version, sponsored by Rep. Gail Griffin. Griffin’s bill was turned into what is known as a “striker” or “strike-all-amendment” in order to attached the modified language of SB 1456.

HB 2305 “restricts sex education instruction for pupils in kindergarten through grade 4. Modifies requirements relating to sex education instruction, including curricula approval and parental permission and notification procedures.” In keeping with the governor’s recommendation, the specifies that age and grade appropriate classroom instruction on child assault awareness and abuse prevention is not prohibited.


Arizona Legislature Passes Bill Requiring Parental Permission for All Sex Ed Curriculum

Ducey Vetoes Sex Ed Bill, Issues Executive Order Instead

The bill does not prohibit or dictate any curriculum in grades 5-12; it “merely ensures that parents may opt their children into instruction on human sexuality,” according to supporters.

On April 20, 2021, the Governor issued an Executive Order related to sex education, which among other matters, requires a public review process to select sex education curricula, directs schools to make any approved sex education curricula available online and in-person and allows parents to review the materials before opting their child in to sex education courses, according to the legislative record.

Parents Applaud Bill Allowing Districts To Post Learning Materials Review Process

Parents Applaud Bill Allowing Districts To Post Learning Materials Review Process

By B. Hernandez |

Parents, like those in the Peoria Unified School District, are praising a bill, SB1058, which requires district and charter schools to post a list of procedures used to review and approve learning materials and procedures by which a parent can review learning materials in advance.

If the district does not have procedures used to review and approve learning materials, the bill requires them to post a “clear statement that no such procedures or processes are in effect at the school.”

While the bill has been stripped of meaningful reforms, supporters say the bill is a baby step in the right direction even if it only brings much needed attention to what is going on in Arizona’s K-12 classrooms.

Last week, Peoria parents attempted to share their concerns with district officials about lesson plans that involve and appeared to be based on the principles forwarded by the political organization, Black Lives Matter.

Not only were parents not advised that students would be exposed to curriculum of a highly controversial and clearly partisan nature, they were denied access to review the learning materials.

Barto’s bill at least provides them with a clear path to curriculum review, say education experts.

RELATED ARTICLE: Peoria Parents Grow Frustrated As District Officials Block Access To Curriculum

This week, the Arizona Department of Education released a report showing a dramatic decrease in public school enrollments compared to last year. Public enrollment is down by approximately 38,000 students for the 2020-2021 school year compared to last year.