New AZ hotline targets Critical Race Theory
TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The state of Arizona has launched a new resource for parents worried about what their kids are learning inside the classroom.
The Arizona Department of Education’s ‘’Empower Hotline’' is a phone number concerned parents can call to report any public school lesson they believe goes against academic standards.
However, many say this could be harmful to those inside the classroom.
Marisol Garcia, the President of the Arizona Education Association, has spent many years inside the classroom as a parent and a teacher. She says the new hotline has raised some concerns.
“It did cause a lot of anxiety with educators across the state,” Garcia said.
She says the new ‘’empower hotline’' adds more stress on educators unsure of what they can and can’t teach.
“This is concerning not just for new people coming into the profession but more importantly to keep the professionals that we have,” Garcia tells 13 News. “The veteran educators who have committed their lives to this profession.”
Garcia adds this new hotline is more about politics and the focus should be on teacher retention and pay.
“We have these amazing relationships. If I have issues with my son’s teachers, the first place I don’t go is the state’s government,” Garcia said. “I go directly to his teacher, who I have a relationship with, who knows my son.”
But those at the state level think otherwise. Superintendent Tom Horne is fulfilling a promise made on the campaign trail.
“Race is irrelevant to anything,” Horne said in a press release. “Critical race theory teaches the opposite, that race is primary.”
The hotline is not only used to report critical race theory lessons but those about gender ideology and social and emotional learning.
“They divide students into ‘oppressors’ and ‘oppressed’ based on what race they were born into, which is irrational,” Horne said.
Something Garcia says can divide parents and teachers.
“This is coming from a state level, who is not in the classroom every day and who is not with students every day,” Garcia said. “Who is not on lunch duty when it’s 110 and not really aware of what is happening.”
Arizona isn’t the first state to try to use this method.
In early 2022, Virginia’s governor started a similar call line. However, it was shut down in November when parents were using the number for purposes not related to critical race.
Horne claims he has evidence of critical race theory already being taught inside classrooms, which he believes must stop.
“Teachers must teach academics, not use their power over a captive audience, to promote their personal ideology,” Horne said. “That is unprofessional conduct.”
Garcia says it’s important to be united and invites parents to be more involved in their children’s education. She says if you are having a problem with lessons it’s best to have those conversations with your child’s educator.
“Every single educator has emails, they reach out to parents,” Garcia said. “If they have a question or a student comes home and says ‘oh I didn’t learn anything in school today’ call the school and make an appointment with the teacher.”
If you feel like the lessons your child is learning in school are inappropriate, that hotline is available now at 602-771-3500 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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