PHOENIX, AZ. - Legislators in Arizona have passed a new bill that will significantly impact school curriculums across the state. The bill, SB1425, was engrossed in the state legislature and has now been signed into law.
The bill amends several sections of the Arizona Revised Statutes related to school curriculums. One of the most notable changes is the addition of section 15-112.01, which prohibits school districts and charter schools in the state from including in their programs of instruction any courses or classes that include any educational program, curriculum, material, or activity that is derived from or associated with an initiative by journalists to reframe this country's history in a racially divisive manner.
This provision has raised concerns among some educators and civil rights activists who worry that it could be used to limit discussions about racism and discrimination in the classroom.
The bill also amends section 15-701.01 to require that students pass a test on American civics education and a comparative discussion of political ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States.
Additionally, the bill requires that students complete at least one year of instruction on American government, including the civics education prescribed in sections 15-710 and 15-718, and American history, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, to graduate from high school or obtain a high school equivalency diploma.
The changes to the Arizona Revised Statutes have been met with mixed reactions. Supporters of the bill argue that it will ensure that students are educated about the founding principles of the United States and the dangers of political ideologies that conflict with those principles. They also argue that the bill will prevent teaching critical race theory in schools, which they believe promotes divisiveness and resentment among different racial groups.
However, opponents of the bill argue that it is an attempt to whitewash history and limit discussions about systemic racism and discrimination in the classroom. They also say that the bill will limit the ability of teachers to educate their students about the full range of political ideologies and perspectives in the world.
The passage of this bill in Arizona is part of a broader trend across the United States of efforts to restrict the teaching of critical race theory in schools. At least 26 states have introduced bills or taken executive action to limit the teaching of critical race theory or related concepts in schools.
Proponents of these efforts argue that critical race theory promotes divisiveness and teaches children to hate their country. In contrast, opponents say that it is a crucial tool for understanding how systemic racism and discrimination continue to impact marginalized communities.
The debate over teaching critical race theory in schools will likely continue in the coming months and years. As schools across the country begin to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic, educators and policymakers will need to grapple with how best to educate students about the history of the United States and the ongoing struggles for racial justice and equality.
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