Recently elected Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) this week vetoed state Senate Bill 1305, which would have prohibited public schools in the state from teaching tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and fined schools up to $5,000 per violation.
The veto comes after the bill passed the state house and senate through the support of the GOP majority in both chambers. Hobbs claimed the bill uses students and teachers as part of the “culture wars based on fear-mongering and unfounded accusations.” Instead of approving the measure, she told the legislature to “work on real issues” affecting Arizona schools, such as underfunded classrooms, a growing educator retention crisis, and school buildings needing repair and replacement.
Arizona’s Democrat governor @katiehobbs pushes to put CRT in Arizona’s public schools | Just The News https://t.co/YIIsUaZQsm
— Bernard B. Kerik (@BernardKerik) March 10, 2023
Republicans in the Arizona state legislature have frequently argued that teaching about race-related issues in the United States in a historical context is not what they’re trying to ban but rather concepts that they believe would divide students by race. Senate Bill 1305 would have prohibited schools from teaching that one race is inherently morally or intellectually superior to another, that one’s moral character is determined by their skin color, or that an individual bears responsibility for the actions of others in the same ethnic group.
Conservative lawmakers and commentators argue that CRT teaches impressionable children that America is fundamentally racist and pushes them to view all social interactions in terms of race. Meanwhile, CRT advocates pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit and objective truth inside schools by adopting race-based policies.
Across the country, red state governors have moved to prohibit CRT teaching from public school classrooms. On her first day in office, new Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders (R) signed an executive order banning such lessons and preventing “indoctrination.” In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has lowered the accreditation of two public schools found in violation of the state’s CRT ban.
Senate Bill 1305 was the latest attempt by the Arizona Legislature in recent years to regulate race-related topics taught in the state’s public schools. Former Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed a bill banning CRT concepts in 2021. However, the Arizona Supreme Court later voided the law because it was passed through a budget bill. A similar bill advanced through the legislature last year. Still, Republicans could not pass it in time before the session ended.
Arizona state Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R) sponsored Senate Bill 1305 and expressed disappointment in Hobbs’ veto. He argued it is a “slap in the face to parents who came forward with serious concerns about the racism being taught in their children’s classrooms.” He and other conservatives believe CRT presents a distorted and destructive history and worldview that exacerbates racial tension and anxiety within our children and society.