The lackluster budget being loudly celebrated by the far-right extremist “Freedom Caucus” is behind us, and the Republican-run Arizona Legislature is returning to business as usual. That means more culture wars, attacks on teachers, attempts to expand vouchers, and even more “spring breaks” for lawmakers. Luckily for Arizona, Gov. Hobbs’ veto stamp still contains plenty of ink.
This past week, Republicans passed a slew of bills that attack public schools, educators and LGBTQ+ youth — none of these draconian restrictions apply to ESA-funded private schools or ESA-funded home education. All are awaiting transmittal to Gov. Hobbs’ desk (she is expected to veto them):
- 📥SB1001, Kavanagh (R-3), would ban teachers from using a student’s chosen pronouns without written parental permission. This manufactured, divisive culture-war bill hurts students and further politicizes teachers.
- 📥SB1040, Kavanagh (R-3), would ban trans kids from using the school bathrooms, changing facilities and “sleeping quarters” that align with their gender identities, further politicizing public schools.
- 📥HB2786, Heap (R-10), would require school boards to notify parents of recommended or funded “training opportunities” for staff as part of the hunt for nonexistent “critical race theory” in schools.
- 📥SB1026, Kavanagh (R-3), threatens school funding by banning “drag shows” for people under 18 – and the definition is broad enough to include school plays and pep rallies. Violators would lose state funds for 3 school years.
- 📥SB1410, Wadsack (R-17), would require public school boards to establish the equivalent of Supt. Horne’s “teacher snitch line” for parents to report purported violations of their rights.
- 📥SB1243, Mesnard (R-13), would bolster profit for STO vouchers by rolling them into a single category and increasing the maximum contribution amount.
- 📥SB1696, Hoffman (R-15), broadly doubles down on a ban on district and charter schools exposing minors to “sexually explicit materials.”
- 📥HB2539, Pingerelli (R-28), would force the State Board of Education to implement a “public awareness program” to prop up school choice in Arizona, including mandatory publicity for ESA vouchers at the taxpayers’ expense.
A bright spot: three extremely damaging bills failed on the House floor this week thanks to unanimous “no” votes by Democrats and a single Republican, David Cook (R-7), who held the line on bills that would hurt students and public schools in his rural district. Thanks, Rep. Cook!
- ☠️SB1564, Kaiser (R-2), would allow private and ESA voucher students to try out for public school sports. Athletics should be something parents consider when choosing a school for their student. When parents opt out of local schools, they opt out of extracurriculars.
- ☠️SB1323, Hoffman (R-15), would make it a felony for any public school employee to violate last year’s ban on referring students to or using any so-called “sexually explicit” material, which includes commonly taught literature and even the Bible.
- ☠️SB1694, Hoffman (R-15), would ban the state, including public schools, from requiring “diversity, equity, and inclusion programs” for its employees.