Republican Legislators Admonish Ducey: Act Now Against Schools Defying the Law

Republican Legislators Admonish Ducey: Act Now Against Schools Defying the Law

By Corinne Murdock |

25 Arizona House and Senate Republicans led by freshman State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Phoenix) called for Governor Doug Ducey to do something about the school districts defying state law with their mask mandates. The news release on Wednesday revealed that Republican legislators have urged Ducey privately to take action, to no avail. This public statement appears to be their next step in convincing Ducey to enforce the law.

It’s been over a week since the first school district called a mask mandate: Phoenix Union High School (PXU). Other schools followed suit soon after: most recently, Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD). Ducey hasn’t taken action – though his spokespersons have relayed Ducey’s finger-wagging statements of disapproval in response to those school districts.

The legislators proposed that Ducey respond to the districts’ actions by withholding federal funding, authorizing temporary Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) for families, inform families of the law, and take legal action.

Hoffman’s statement explained that the ban on mask mandates included a retroactivity clause that puts it in effect – contradicting school districts’ insistence that the law can’t take place until 90 days after the end of the legislative session, per Arizona statute. He noted that the school districts’ behavior undermined lawful government and bordered on anarchy.

“Under Arizona’s constitutional form of government, local governments do not have the authority or power to usurp state law simply because they disagree, yet that is precisely the kind of illegal activity in which many local governments are presently engaged. The Arizona legislature, with the Governor concurring, very intentionally enacted the laws at hand to protect Arizonans and Arizona children from the threat of government mandating them to wear a mask or be injected with a vaccine,” wrote Hoffman. “A resounding message must be delivered to any local government or subdivision of the state considering defying state law – lawlessness will not be tolerated.”


https://twitter.com/AZHouseGOP/status/1425545781558218754

House Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert) signed onto the statement admonishing Ducey. He told AZ Free News that he also supports law enforcement stepping in to enforce the law. Grantham hinted that this debacle sparked a legislative priority for next year – adding more teeth to legislation.

“It’s unfortunate that some of our government-funded schools have chosen to blatantly ignore state law and the will of the majority of Arizonans by instituting mandates regarding students wearing face coverings,” relayed Grantham. “I support executive action by the governor to include withholding of taxpayer dollars and expansion of school choice funding options giving more educational choices to parents. I also support any efforts by law enforcement to enforce state law and I encourage parents and teachers to follow state law when sending their children to school and when on school grounds. Next year I will make it a focus to hold those who violate state law accountable and ensure appropriate funding reductions are in place for districts that purposely violate the law.”

State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) also signed onto the statement. He reiterated to AZ Free News that disagreement with the law isn’t justification for violation of it. Chaplik wrote the legislation that effectively banned mask mandates in schools. He, too, asserted that the power to act is in Ducey’s hands.

“Just because some don’t agree with policy and law, we should not disrespect and violate it while also teaching children these illegal tactics,” said Chaplik. “We passed this policy due to the inconsistencies of results with mask use and the unknown long term health issues that can impair our children. We need to stop this madness. The legislature did its job and now the executive branch needs to enforce the law.”

As of press time, Grantham and Chaplik said that they haven’t seen or heard any responses from Ducey.

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

What Are School Districts Trying To Hide?

What Are School Districts Trying To Hide?

By the Goldwater Institute |

The public’s business should be open to the public. And under Rhode Island law, it is. Yet when mom Nicole Solas sought to attend the meeting of a publicly funded committee that meets weekly to discuss and make recommendations on policies that apply across her daughter’s school district, she was told that the meeting was closed and parents were not welcome.

Now, the Goldwater Institute is pushing back: We’ve joined with the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights in Rhode Island to represent Nicole in a complaint before the state attorney general asserting that the school district has violated Rhode Island’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) by closing these meetings to the public.  

Rhode Island’s OMA was enacted to ensure that “public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens be advised of and aware of the performance of public officials and the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy.” The presumption under that law is always in favor of public access.

Yet in March 2021, the South Kingstown School Committee signed an agreement with the South Kingstown BIPOC Advisory Board to hold weekly meetings where district policies ranging from student discipline to coaching to hiring would be discussed and where recommendations would be made on those issues by the Board to the School Committee. In other words, the Board was charged with advisory power by the School Committee over matters of significant public interest—the education of South Kingstown’s youth. The Board is also publicly funded with taxpayer dollars by the School Committee, and two members of the School Committee’s subcommittee on policy sit on the Board.

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CRT Instruction Is Not New To Arizona Classrooms

CRT Instruction Is Not New To Arizona Classrooms

By Johanna J. Haver |

As a retired Arizona teacher and former member of the National Education Association, I am disgusted regarding the teachers unions’ recent solid support for instruction based on “critical race theory” – a point of view that promotes divisiveness based on race and/or ethnicity. Although recent state legislation outlaws CRT instruction in public schools, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, is advising the teachers to break the law and continue with it nevertheless.  She promises that the union will pay any fines imposed on them.

CRT instruction is not new to Arizona.  For several years, the Tucson Unified School District has implemented a program referred as “ethnic studies,” specifically “La Raza” for Hispanic students.  This course of study promotes racial hatred toward whites, much like CRT.  For example, the book Occupied America used in La Raza classes includes a speech by a Mexican leader who calls upon Chicanos To “kill the gringo” and end white control over Mexicans.

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In 2008, several Tucson students reported that the director of the La Raza program had called a popular Mexican-American teacher a “White man’s agent” because he did not agree with the anti-white instruction.  The students added that they were advised to “not fall for the White man’s trap” and to attend college to attain the power to take back “the stolen land” and return it to Mexico.

Tom Horne, former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction (2003-2011) and then State Attorney General (2011-2015), opposed this instruction so much that he wrote a bill prohibiting it.  The legislature passed it and Governor Jan Brewer signed it into law in 2010. However, in 2017, after Horne had left office, a liberal federal judge found the law to be unconstitutional.  No one in public office at that time bothered to appeal this judgment so it has continued in Tucson schools.

People do not realize teachers unions have failed the public in other ways.  While still a teacher in 1998, I left the union myself in response to its involvement in replacing a competent Phoenix high school principal who valued student achievement with an incompetent one who favored equity over equality.  This leadership-change resulted in the gradual demise of advanced placement instruction and the watering down of other classwork.  A once-orderly high school turned into a teenage day center.  This high school never recovered.  Presently, Great Schools ranks it, out of a possible “10”, as “3” in academic progress and “2” in state test scores.

Several years ago, in a community column for the Arizona Republic, I compared Phoenix school districts with high union enrollment with those with low or no union enrollment.  The highest paying district had the greatest number of union members, yet turned out to be the one with the lowest rate of student achievement.  Other factors such as poverty come into play when making these evaluations, but not as dramatically as the unions claim.

In one large low-income, predominantly minority Phoenix elementary school district, the superintendent successfully persuaded her teachers to invest in mutual funds instead of spending thousands of their hard-earned money every year on union dues.  She realized that a powerful union would make it impossible for her to do anything about low achievement, a consequence of poor-performing teachers.  Soon, the schools showed remarkable academic progress and the teachers were quite proud of what they had accomplished.

In a “right to work” state like Arizona, unions have to work diligently to build membership among teachers because no one can be forced to join. Thus, in order to gain support, the unions focus on salary, benefits, job-protection, and political action against anyone who disagrees with their union causes.

School boards and administrators are supposed to be a force of opposition to union control.  Unfortunately, that seldom happens because unions themselves often handpick and fund the campaigns of those board candidates – whom they can count on to hire superintendents of the same mind.

Parents would be wise to seek out the dedicated teachers who realize that union policy has become detrimental to student success.  Together, they could establish a better way – either through reform or total abolishment of teachers unions.

Johanna J. Haver is a retired teacher with 32 years of experience. She was a member of the Maricopa County Community College District board (2015-18) and has written three books, most recently Vindicated: Closing the Hispanic Achievement Gap Through English Immersion (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).

It’s Time For Arizona To Join Other States In Banning Critical Race Theory

It’s Time For Arizona To Join Other States In Banning Critical Race Theory

By the Free Enterprise Club |

The indoctrination needs to stop. And thankfully, many parents are fed up.

For quite some time, activists have been trying to force Critical Race Theory or similar programs into government and especially our schools. This movement combines Marxist theories of class conflict within the lens of race. It teaches that some races have been “minoritized” and are considered oppressed while those who are “racially privileged” are called “exploiters.”

These sorts of programs made their way into our public schools because proponents of Critical Race Theory are good at disguising it. They use terms like “social justice,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “equity” which seem harmless enough. So, you can see how easy it could be for a busy parent with a mountain of responsibilities to overlook such a curriculum.

But parents around the state of Arizona are starting to catch on. And they’re speaking up.

In 2019, Chandler Unified School District adopted a program called “Deep Equity” (note that keyword). Parents spoke out then, and the program was phased out.

Just a few months ago, Litchfield Elementary School District published an “equity statement” along with a set of “equity goals.” These “goals” were presented at a school board meeting by a “district diversity committee” because someone on the school board must have been using their Critical Race Theory dictionary. But parents and other community members voiced their opposition, and the district agreed to revise these “goals.”

And last month, parents in Scottsdale demanded more transparency from the Scottsdale Unified School District after some parents heard indoctrination from teachers while their kids were in school online at home.

It’s great that parents are speaking up. And they should continue to do so. But multiple states around the country have started to ban Critical Race Theory. And parents should demand that Arizona lawmakers do the same.

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Ducey Bans Government Entities From Asking About Vaccine Status But Businesses, Schools, Health Providers Can

Ducey Bans Government Entities From Asking About Vaccine Status But Businesses, Schools, Health Providers Can

By Terri Jo Neff |

An effort by the Arizona Legislature to craft permanent legislation to prevent a person from being denied access to businesses, government facilities, and even their child’s school unless they showed proof of being vaccination for COVID-19 was pushed aside Monday when Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order about the issue.

Under Executive Order 21-09, most private businesses in Arizona will be free to refuse service to “a customer” who does not provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Only companies which receive state funding to provide services to the public are banned from inquiring about someone’s status, although Ducey’s order does not protect those citizens who cannot receive a vaccine for a medical reason

“While we strongly recommend all Arizonans get the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not mandated in our state — and it never will be,” Ducey said in announcing his latest COVID related executive order. “Vaccination is up to each individual, not the government.”

Daycares, schools, colleges, and universities would still be able to ask about a student’s vaccination record as already allowed by law, but parents could not be asked about their own vaccination status if the educational program receives any state funding.

In addition, hospitals and other healthcare facilities can inquire about the vaccination status of patients, prospective patients, vendors, visitors, and staff, even if the organization receives state funds.

There was initially some confusion Monday morning about what EO 2021-09 encompassed, as Ducey’s official Twitter account read “I’ve issued an Executive Order banning ‘vaccine passports’ and preventing state and local governments from requiring Arizonans to provide their #COVID19 vaccination status to receive service or enter an area.”

Many took the first sentence to mean businesses could not impose a vaccine requirement on customers. However, that misinterpretation was quickly corrected by the rest of the governor’s comments.

Ducey noted in the executive order that no person should be compelled to disclose their private health information -including their vaccination record- to a government entity as a condition of receiving services, obtaining a license or permit, or entrance to a public facility unless state law already requires proof of vaccination.

He added that federal and state laws allow individuals to refuse to be vaccinated, and that “it is not and will not be mandated in the State of Arizona.”

EO 2021-09 also prohibits any other state subdivision -including cities towns, counties, and state agencies- from adopting a policy or ordinance that contradicts the governor’s order. This ensures cities, towns, and counties cannot demand proof of vaccinations for people to use public parks and other public recreational and entertainment amenities.

Rep. Bret Roberts (R-LD11) first introduced legislation to ban such “vaccine passports” in Arizona. His effort was taken up by Sen. Kelly Townsend on March 28 in the form of HB2190, which would have protected Arizonans from having to divulge their vaccination record to shop, dine, or do most everyday activities.

HB2190 hit a snag in early April over concerns that it did not allow healthcare providers nor business owners to inquire about vaccination status of their employees. Negotiations have been underway all month on possible amendments to Townsend’s bill.

For his part, Roberts announced his support for EO 2021-09, noting Ducey’s “reasons for doing so are sound.” But he went on to note that many of those sounds reasons “also apply to the private sector.”

“No one should be required to give up their medical history to participate in commerce,” Roberts tweeted Monday morning. “When all businesses require it the individuals choice is lost. Allowing private business to do this amounts to segregation.”

Roberts also expressed concern that executive orders are intended to be temporary. After the governor’s announcement, Rep. Leo Biasiucci (R-LD4) said SB2190 should be voted on in the coming days as it “solves the issue with businesses requiring vaccine mandates.”

Also on Monday, Ducey rescinded a section of his EO 2020-51 which had directed K-12 schools to require masks.

“We will continue to work with public health professionals and Arizona’s schools as more students return to the classroom and our state moves forward,” the governor said.