Arizona Legislature passes controversial education bills; governor to decide their fate

By Yana Kunichoff, Mary Jo Pitzl | Arizona Republic

Republicans in the Arizona Senate on Monday voted to send two bills that would widen parental scrutiny of student records and school library books to Gov. Doug Ducey, capping nearly three months of debate over how far lawmakers should reach into daily classroom operations.

Another measure that would require teachers to post curriculum and instructional materials online failed in the House but is likely to get revived in the coming weeks.

Overall, the actions were a strong showing for bills supported by Republican lawmakers and some parents who have criticized how race and history are taught in Arizona schools. But the measures also raised concerns from other parents — and teachers — who said they would lead to more educators leaving the profession. 

The politically charged proposals reflect a broader debate that has grown in the past year over school policies, fueled by parents critical of COVID-19 mitigation measures like masks and whether schools are teaching lessons intended to make students feel guilty for historical mistreatment of minority populations. 

Parental control bills in particular are moving through legislatures from Kansas to Wisconsin to Oregon. They come as the 2022 election looms as a boon for Republicans, with school-focused bills designed to fire up their base. The language in the Arizona bills was drafted with the support of conservative think tanks like the Goldwater Institute and the Center for Arizona Policy.

Monday’s votes drew little comment from lawmakers, a marked difference to the hours of discussion they set off earlier at the Capitol. 

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