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House panel votes to pass bill that makes teaching about racism in certain ways illegal

By Greg Hahne
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 10:43am
Updated: Thursday, January 20, 2022 - 9:38am
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An Arizona House panel voted 6-4 along party lines to pass a bill that would make teaching about racism illegal in certain ways.

Specifically, Rep. Michelle Udall says it bars teachers from teaching in a way that students should feel guilty based on their race, ethnicity or sex.  

The bill is seen as a response to teaching Critical Race Theory in schools, a decades-old ideology that says race is a cultural invention and not inherent in biology. 

The phrasing of the bill states it’s illegal to teach that one’s race, ethnic group or sex makes one inherently superior to another. The bill also makes it illegal to teach that an individual should feel guilt, discomfort, or other psychological distress based on their race, ethnicity or sex.  

Udall is a Republican representative. 

“When you're teaching some of these heavy topics I think it's important for the teacher to make sure students understand they are responsible for their own actions, and not for what happened in history," Udall said. 

Teachers who violate the bill could face suspension, or lose their teaching certificate, and districts can be fined up to $5,000 for each violation. 

But the phrasing of the bill has some legislators worried about what it might mean for teachers.

Jennifer Pawlik is a state representative. 

"I can tell you that as a primary teacher that was never my intent. But if somebody has a feeling like, 'Oh my goodness, I didn't know it happens,' it makes a First Grader sad, will the teacher lose their teaching credentials, will the school be fined?'' Pawlik asked. 

Rep. Reginald Bolding worries teachers may face punishment teaching about past horrors that happened because of race, like the treatment of Native Americans. 

Politics Education