House panel approves bill to quash political activity in classrooms

Teachers, students and Red for Ed supporters gathered at Chase Field on April 26, 2018, before marching to the Arizona Capitol. /Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times

 

By Katie Campbell | Arizona Capitol Times

The president of the state’s largest teachers’ union warned a House committee Monday of a potential Red for Ed resurgence if they advanced a contentious bill from Rep. Kelly Townsend last night, which they did.

Townsend’s House Bill 2015, which opponents view as retaliation for last year’s strike, would prohibit school district employees from using school resources to espouse a political or religious ideology or face a fine of up to $5,000. Democrats and opponents argued the bill would have a chilling effect on teachers without solving an existing problem.

The House Education approved the bill 8-5 along party lines, just hours after teachers in West Virginia, who inspired last year’s strike in Arizona, decided to walk out of their classrooms again starting today in protest of a Republican bill viewed as retaliatory.

Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas cautioned the committee before they voted on Townsend’s proposal.

“I’m telling you right now if this goes through tonight, I’m going to be on television for the rest of the week talking about this against the backdrop of West Virginia,” he told the committee.

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