Arizona’s newly elected education superintendent has created a system to alert authorities if teachers present classroom lessons on critical race theory (CRT), a college-level academic framework to analyze systemic racism that’s not taught at elementary or secondary schools.
The Arizona Republic reports that education superintendent Tom Horne, who vowed as a candidate to wage a war on CRT, recently launched a hotline for people to report “inappropriate lessons that detract from teaching academic standards,” namely topics that could be considered CRT or emotional support curriculum.
Meanwhile, Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would have banned the teaching of critical race theory in Arizona schools, The Arizona Mirror reported March 9. It’s unclear how this will impact plans for the hotline.
Conservatives have co-opted the term “critical race theory” and turned it into a catch-all phrase to silence discussion about systemic racism.
Social-emotional learning teaches students how to manage their emotions, collaborate and form positive relationships. But conservative say teaching these soft skills opens a door to introducing CRT in the classroom, according to NPR.
Horne’s office claims to have heard complaints about teachers inappropriately discussing race. The department’s website alerts people that mentions of things like white supremacy or white privilege in the classroom are indicators that educators are teaching CRT.
State education officials will investigate complaints and discipline teachers who refuse to comply with its policies.
The wave of directives, in mostly GOP-led states, banning teachers from discussing America’s racist history has created an environment of fear and confusion about how exactly to educate students about slavery, Jim Crow and discrimination, The Washington Post reported.
Arizona Education Association president Marisol Garcia told The Republic that the hotline would bypass the traditional way to handle complaints – parents speaking to school administrators and teachers about their concerns.
“It really does put teachers in a place where they have no idea they even had a complaint lodged against them,” Garcia said. “People lose due process rights.”
If Virginia’s experiment with a CRT hotline is any indication, Arizona’s tip line will create turmoil but ultimately fail to achieve its stated purpose.
Few of the tips alerted Virginia officials about CRT in the classroom, USA Today reported. Most of the complaints were about special education violations and concerns about academic rigor, as well as praise for teachers.
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