Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoes GOP bill aimed at banning CRT in public schools

Mar 9, 2023, 1:05 PM | Updated: Mar 13, 2023, 8:11 am
(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)...
(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, as expected, vetoed a Republican bill Thursday aimed at keeping critical race theory out of K-12 public schools, calling the legislation divisive.

The bill’s sponsor responded by calling the veto “a slap in the face to parents.”

“It is time to stop utilizing students and teachers in culture wars based on fearmongering and unfounded accusations. Bills like SB1305 only serve to divide and antagonize,” the Democratic governor said in her veto letter.

Many Republicans view the concepts underlying critical race theory (CRT) as an effort to rewrite American history and persuade white people that they are inherently racist and should feel guilty because of their advantages.

But the theory also has become somewhat of a catchall phrase to describe racial concepts some conservatives find objectionable, such as white privilege, systemic inequality and inherent bias.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. J.D. Mesnard, was sent to Hobbs’ desk on Monday after moving through the Legislature on party-line votes.

“I’m deeply disheartened by Gov. Hobbs’ choice to condone these discriminatory teachings our kids are being exposed to, by vetoing my bill,” Mesnard said in a statement Thursday. “As lawmakers, we are called to protect the vulnerable, including impressionable and innocent kids.

“Her action today is a slap in the face to parents who came forward with serious concerns about the racism being taught in their children’s classrooms.”

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne ran and won his campaign last year emphasizing an anti-CRT sentiment.

Horne, a Republican, said Thursday he expected the veto and is looking at other ways to keep what he thinks is inappropriate race-related messaging out of classrooms.

“I’d have to bring the charge, and it would be decided by the State Board [of Education]. I think teachers could be disciplined for using a captive audience to promulgate their own personal ideology,” he said.

“That’s not why they are being paid. They are being paid to teach academics.”

On Tuesday, Horne’s office launched a hotline for parents to call if they think their children are being taught CRT or other “inappropriate lessons.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoes GOP bill aimed at banning CRT in public schools