Arizona Senate to Vote on Budget Including “Divisive Concepts” Provisions
Proposed legislation closely mirrors bills introduced elsewhere under the guise of prohibiting "critical race theory"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — The Arizona state senate is set to vote this week on a state budget that includes a set of provisions prohibiting teachers, administrators, and other school district employees from instructing students in a set of “divisive concepts.” This list of prohibited concepts broadly mirrors legislation introduced in numerous states under the guise of prohibiting “critical race theory” and includes a list of “divisive concepts” that originated in President Trump’s Executive Order on Race and Sex Stereotyping last fall.
Provisions being considered would allow courts to impose a penalty of up to $5,000 per violation on any school or district; another states that teachers who violate the prohibition could be subject to disciplinary action. Some of these provisions in the budget were included in SB 1532, a bill which narrowly failed to pass in the Arizona Senate in May.
“The prospect of prohibitions and penalties when it comes to teaching and schools is truly alarming,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education at PEN America. “This is an underhanded effort to slip censorious provisions into a budget process after they failed in the legislative process, with the obvious aim of chilling speech about racism, gender, and American history. State senators need to take a serious look at these outrageous provisions, which would potentially fine schools and districts for teaching historical facts and facilitating open discussions. Students have the right to learn free from these ideologically-motivated constraints.”
PEN America has previously spoken out about the efforts to introduce “divisive concepts” legislation around the country, most recently in a joint statement with the American Historical Association, American Association of University Professors, Association of American Colleges & Universities, and over 120 other scholarly and educational groups.