By Daniel Stefanski |
Republicans in the Arizona Legislature continue to advance bills that would increase parental choice, transparency, and involvement in their children’s education; and some of those proposals are being met with incredible opposition from Democrats and interest groups.
Last month, SB 1700, sponsored by Senator Justine Wadsack, was considered by the Senate Education Committee. According to the fact sheet provided by the Arizona Senate, SB 1700 “requires the Arizona Department of Education to maintain a list of books that public educational institutions may not use or make available to students, including books that are lewd or sexual, promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns or groom children into normalizing pedophilia.” The bill also “grants parents the right to request removal of school district or charter school library or classroom materials, extends public review periods for library materials and district textbooks and removes exceptions from district curriculum approval and school library access requirements.”
Debate on this bill in committee was fierce, and opponents railed against its eventual passage. One teacher, in particular, made national headlines when she compared the “advanced degrees” of Arizona teachers with the education and background parents may or may not have to “choose the curriculum and the books that our children are going to read.”
These comments caught the attention of Arizona Republican lawmakers, who used the rhetoric in the committee hearing to continue to make their case for parental choice legislation. Wadsack, the bill’s sponsor, tweeted, “And THIS is why I fight for Parental Rights! THIS right here. This was a Leftist Teacher speaking in my committee last week – You just can’t write this stuff.”
Representative Jacqueline Parker added, “Wow! Sickening.”
The Arizona Department of Education also weighed in on the teacher’s outburst in the Senate Education Committee: “Superintendent Horne will always empower parents because they should be in charge of their children’s education. #EducationForAll”
Despite the backlash against the bill, Republican Senators held their ground and successfully cleared SB 1700 from the Education Committee. Senators Steve Kaiser, Anthony Kerr, and Chairman Ken Bennett joined Senator Wadsack in fending off three Democrat Senators.
Representatives from the Arizona Association of County School Superintendents, the Arizona Education Association, the National Association of Social Workers – Arizona Chapter, Save Our Schools Arizona, the Arizona Charter Schools Association, Arizona National Organization for Women (NOW), Arizona Library Association, and Equality Arizona all opposed the bill.
Representatives Rachel Jones and Cory McGarr were co-sponsors of this bill.
SB 1700 has not been considered by the Rules Committee, nor by the entire Senate chamber.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.