- The Arizona Department of Education opened a hotline to allow parents and community members to report teachers who are promoting Critical Race Theory, gender ideology and other “inappropriate lessons” in the classroom.
- In a letter to the department obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, Parents Defending Education (PDE) Action, a nonpartisan policy organization, raised concerns that the tip line may field more prank complaints and out parents to activists seeking to “harass” them.
- “As we saw in Virginia, the hotline quickly became overwhelmed with unrelated comments and questions. It was swiftly shut down after just a few months of operation because it turned out to be ineffective,” Alex Nester, political director of Parents Defending Education Action, told the DCNF.
Parents Defending Education (PDE) Action, a nonpartisan policy organization, is sounding the alarm over an Arizona Department of Education hotline designed for residents to snitch on educators who give “inappropriate lessons,” according to a Monday letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Arizona Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Horne unveiled the “empower hotline” on March 9, to allow parents to report public school teachers who are promoting Critical Race Theory (CRT), gender ideology, social emotional learning or inappropriate sexual content within the classroom, according to a press release. In a letter addressed to Horne and the state Department of Education, PDE Action raised concerns that the line may become bogged down by concerns unrelated to “inappropriate” issues in the classroom, ruining the effectiveness of the tip line.
In 2022, Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin launched a similar hotline to field concerns of CRT in the classroom, however, community members used the line to compliment teachers, complain about COVID-19 policies and special-education violations, according to the Insider. Youngkin shut the hotline down months later, which PDE Action could happen to the Arizona tip line, the letter stated.
Superintendent Horne believes in empowering parents, and that’s why he launched the Empower Hotline. No educator should discuss politics, critical race theory, or social emotional learning with students. Every educational minute is precious for our students. #EducationForAll pic.twitter.com/aGHndxkmkJ
— Arizona Department of Education (@azedschools) March 10, 2023
“As we saw in Virginia, the hotline quickly became overwhelmed with unrelated comments and questions,” Alex Nester, political director of Parents Defending Education Action, told the DCNF. “It was swiftly shut down after just a few months of operation because it turned out to be ineffective.”
While the tip line has already received nearly 600 emails and there have been many unrelated complaints which the state Department of Education is ignoring, Horne told the DCNF. Some individuals on radio stations have made prank calls to the hotline, Horne told the DCNF.
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
PDE Action raised concern that tips may be subject to public records requests which activists could use to “harass parents and community members” they disagree with, the letter stated. Horne told the DCNF that the tip line is not subject to public records requests though responses may be published with name and contact information attached.
“First and foremost, our concern is protecting children and families,” the letter stated. “Any incident report parents share on the hotline may be subject to a public records request. Activists seeking to push an agenda on our children could use a public records search to harass parents and community members who oppose race and gender ideology in schools.”
Instead of implementing a hotline, the parent organization encouraged the Arizona Department of Education to stop backing Social Emotional Learning (SEL), a curriculum focused on teaching students social skills that aid their mental health which has been criticized as being a tenet of CRT, the letter stated. The parent organization suggested the department stop promoting practices within school districts that allow students to change their name and pronouns without parental permission.
“We’ve had one [tip] with the possibility of sexual abuse which was reported to the police,” Horne told the DCNF. “We have had four or five [tips] that we’re following up on already. And [the hotline] just started, most people don’t know about it yet and it just started. When they find out about it, I’m sure we will get a lot more.”
The opening of the hotline comes after newly elected Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a piece of legislation that would have prohibited the teaching of CRT in K-12 public schools. Schools that violated this piece of legislation would have faced fines up to $5,000.
“Public records, including emails, may be accessible via public records requests,” Nester told the DCNF. “Activists seeking to shame parents for opposing divisive race and gender ideology in the classroom could abuse the hotline to expose parents. Again, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for state lawmakers and state executive branch officials to listen to their constituents. It’s also important that this is done in the right way.”
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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation