An advocacy group says that a hotline created by Arizona’s Department of Education to report controversial K-12 lessons is ripe for abuse.
Parents Defending Education (PDE) Action sent a letter to the Department on Mar. 13, warning that the Empower Hotline, intended to “report inappropriate public school lessons that detract from teaching academic standards,” could get spammed with pranks and irrelevant tips.
Tipsters, according to the letter obtained by the Daily Caller, could also be jeopardized if their information is shared through a public records request.
Arizona’s State Superintendent Tom Horne introduced the hotline on Mar. 9 in a Department news release. Inappropriate lessons, according to the release, “include those that focus on race or ethnicity, rather than individuals and merit,” “social emotional learning,” and “gender ideology.”
But PDE Action, a group dedicated to keeping ideology out of the classroom, writes that a hotline is not the only way to accomplish this mission. “For example, the [D]epartment can and should encourage superintendents to adopt parental inclusion policies,” PDE Action Political Director Alex Nester told Campus Reform.
“Such a policy may cover issues like when and how parents can access curriculum and learning materials; what say a parent has over a child’s decision to use a different name, pronouns, or facilities at school; [and] what documents a district must disclose when they decide to enter into a contract with a group or individual that promotes ideas like ‘equity,’ ‘antiracism,’ or ‘gender ideology’ at school.”
A Department spokesperson told Campus Reform that the hotline’s phone number and email address will remain active as it “look[s] at changes or improvements.” A dedicated investigator follows up on tips, though the spokesperson notes that the Department receives “a very small percentage” of relevant tips compared to “a large number of prank or profane calls.”
The spokesperson says that the topics reportable to the hotline present “issue[s] of teaching to the standards and professional conduct, which the [D]epartment is empowered to investigate.”
Nester writes that “Arizona has some of the best laws on the books,” including legislation enacted in 2022 addressing parental involvement in education and required content for civics lessons. But the Department should “ensure that districts are abiding by existing transparency laws.”
He calls CRT and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) “divisive race and gender ideology.” SEL can invoke racial justice–including in calls for removing police from schools and issuing reparations–but is presented as a means to improve students’ mental health and emotional intelligence.
“SEL is not the way to do that,” Nester says. SEL, CRT, and other ideologies, he continues, “are divisive, unpopular, and they do not belong in schools.”
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.
Republished with permission from Campus Reform