Senate Passes Requirement to Teach High Schoolers About Evils of Communism

Senate Passes Requirement to Teach High Schoolers About Evils of Communism

By Corinne Murdock |

On Wednesday, the Arizona Senate passed HB2008, which reforms the state’s high school learning standards to cast a positive light on America’s founding principles while exploring the dangers of other governing ideologies. The bill now heads to the House for review before submission to Governor Doug Ducey for final approval. 

Under the bill, the State Board of Education (SBE) must update high school social studies standards to incorporate a comparative discussion of political ideologies. Communism and totalitarianism will be juxtaposed with American ideology, such as its founding principles of freedom and democracy. 

“The academic standards prescribed by the state board in social studies shall include personal finance, American civics education, and a comparative discussion of political ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy that are essential to the founding principles of the United States,” states the bill. (emphasis added to reflect the new legislative language)

Specifically, HB2008 requires the learning standards to rely on source texts, oral histories from victims of ideologies like communism and totalitarianism. The SBE would develop resources from the Arizona State University (ASU) School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, the University of Arizona (UArizona) Center for Philosophy of Freedom, and the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy.

The SBE would have until this New Year’s Eve to establish a list of “portraits in patriotism” oral history resources supplementing the civic education and social studies standards.

The bill almost didn’t make it out of the Senate. It failed just the day before, on Tuesday, when Majority Leader Rick Gray (R-Sun City) joined Senate Democrats in opposing it since State Senators Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) and Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) weren’t able to vote. However, all Republican senators offered unified support for the bill the next day. 

HB2008 passed in the House along party lines, with unanimous opposition from Democrats and unanimous support from Republicans. 

Democrats have pushed back against efforts to portray communism in a negative light. Some, like State Representative and congressional candidate Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson), have argued that ideologies like white nationalism pose a bigger threat than communism. 

HB2008’s sponsor, State Representative Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott Valley), was a victim of communism himself. At 12 years old, Nguyen fled from the Communist Party of Vietnam a week before the Fall of Saigon in April 1975.

HB2008 was Nguyen making good on his promise late last year to ensure students learn about the evils of what he and others, such as House Majority Leader Ben Toma (R-Peoria), had suffered. Toma was nine years old when he emigrated from Romania in the 1980s, ruled at the time by communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu.

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

Cochise County Seeks Developer To Renovate 1914 School Property In Bisbee Historic District

Cochise County Seeks Developer To Renovate 1914 School Property In Bisbee Historic District

By Terri Jo Neff |

Cochise County officials are hoping someone with experience in the repurposing of historic properties will want to purchase, renovate, and redevelop the former Bisbee High School, whose exterior dates to 1914 and most of its interior to 1920.

The three-story, four-level school designed by architect Norman Foote Marsh is part of three parcels encompassing about 1.4 acres within the City of Bisbee. The property sits within the Bisbee Historic District, which is itself included on the National Register of Historic Places.

A recently announced request for proposals (RFP) notes Cochise County intends to sell the property “to a developer for subsequent conversion from governmental office use to multi-unit residential, which may also incorporate some retail and office use.” The city council recently approved the county’s rezoning request to Commercial Mixed Use (CM-2).

According to county officials, the ideal developer would have knowledge and experience in property redevelopment, adaptive reuse of historic properties, and historic preservation. Any conveyance by the county would likely include a permanent easement to preserve and protect the building’s exterior.

“The County also expects to enter into a mutually acceptable land development agreement with the successful proposer that will govern the subsequent rehabilitation of the building and the redevelopment of the property,” the RFP states.

Despite the complexities that can come with repurposing the building, there is an interesting peculiarity to Marsh’s three-story, four-level design for the school: as a result of being built on a hillside, all of the building’s levels to have a street-level entrance, a fact attested to by Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not.

Interested developers can access additional information about the Bisbee High School property at

Meanwhile, another historic high school is for sale in Cochise County – the Tombstone Union High School built in 1922 along what is now State Route 80.

For the last 15 years, myriad realtors have tried to find a buyer for the two-story high school which has sat empty since 2006. The 4.5-acre property includes a separate gymnasium and science building, all of which are located near the Tombstone Historic District and historic Allen Street.

Anyone interested in more information about the sale of Tombstone HS can call Superintendent Robert Devere at 520-457-2217.