Hoffman says vaccine exemption, Pledge of Allegiance bills unnecessary
PHOENIX — Arizona’s top education official says there’s no need for two education-related bills being pushed by a state representative.
Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said Thursday that Republican Rep. John Fillmore’s bills concerning vaccines and the Pledge of Allegiance attempt to solve problems that don’t exist.
The first bill, which Fillmore told KTAR News 92.3 FM is meant to protect parental rights, would prevent Arizona schools from requiring vaccinations or refusing to admit any unvaccinated students.
“I don’t think it is necessary,” Hoffman told KTAR News’ Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes Show.
“Parents do already have a choice, and that’s why we have such low immunizations statistics and records across the state, which is deeply disturbing and alarming to me.”
Arizona allows parents to choose not to vaccine their children through medical, religious or personal exemptions.
Hoffman said children who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons must be protected.
“I’m very concerned about because as of right now … only 42% of our kindergarten classrooms in Arizona have herd immunity,” she said.
Herd immunity is the percentage at which enough people are vaccinated to protect the community as a whole, usually 95%.
But Fillmore said he is worried about personal freedom being taken away.
“In America, we have the right to decide, and no government should have the ability to say that anybody could put some kind of a serum in you or your child,” he said.
Fillmore’s other bill requires all Arizona students to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school each day unless they have parental permission to opt out.
Hoffman said through all of her visits to the state’s school, she’s never come across one that does not say the pledge.
“I also question, who is going to be the police of saying the Pledge of Allegiance?” Hoffman said.
“Who’s going to be going and checking to see if the pledge is being said every single morning?”
Fillmore said reciting the pledge is important for civics education, and teachers should be the ones making sure it’s happening.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.