Bill would bar Arizona teachers from pushing views onto students
PHOENIX — A bill introduced in the Arizona Legislature would bar teachers from pushing their political and religious views onto students.
House Bill 2002 would direct the State Board of Education to come up with a code of ethics for teachers that prohibits them from “engaging in political, ideological or religious advocacy in their classrooms.”
Teachers would also be barred from endorsing political candidates, elected officials, legislation or judicial action while working.
In addition, teachers would not be able to talk about “controversial issues” with their students or blame a group of students for “the suffering or inequities experienced by another racial group of students.”
Michael Baser, who teaches AP government and politics at Mesa High School, said he’s not bothered by the bill.
“Honestly, I think that it is unethical for a teacher to push a political ideology or a religious ideology on their students,” he said.
At the same time, Baser said he thinks the bill “is mostly a solution in search of a problem” because he doesn’t know of any teachers who are trying to push their views onto students.
“Teachers that I know, they don’t want to tell their kids what to think about something,” he said. “They just want to help the students learn how to think critically for themselves.”
“And to do that, we will need to discuss current events, political things, even religious issues as long as we are not pushing a certain ideology,” he added.
Meanwhile, teachers associated with the #RedForEd movement say the practice is already prohibited under Arizona law and that the bill is trying to address a problem that doesn’t exist.
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Mark Finchem, disagrees. He said in a statement that he introduced HB 2002 in response to conversations he had with parents and teachers.
“I have good friends who are teachers and they tell me that although they do not promote political agendas in their classrooms, some of their peers do,” he said.
“A code of ethics prohibiting political activity in the classroom shouldn’t be an issue if that behavior isn’t presently happening.”