Parents Defending Education Action (PDE), a nonpartisan policy group, has raised the alarm about an Arizona Department of Education hotline that allows residents to spy on teachers who are giving “inappropriate lessons.”
According to a Monday letter from the Daily Caller News Foundation,
According to a press release, Arizona Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Horne launched the “empower phone line” on March 9. This hotline allows parents to report teachers who promote Critical Race Theory (CRT), Gender Ideology or inappropriate sexual content in the classroom to the police. PDE Action, in a letter to Horne and to the state Department of Education raised concerns about the potential for the hotline to become clogged by unrelated concerns to inappropriate issues in the classroom. This could hamper the effectiveness of tip lines.
Virginia’s Republican Governor was elected in 2022. According to the Insider, Glenn Youngkin also launched a hotline to address CRT concerns in the classroom. However, the hotline was used by community members to compliment teachers and complain about COVID-19 policies, as well as to report on special-education violations. Youngkin closed the hotline months later. This could mean that PDE Action could be taken to the Arizona tip line.
“As we witnessed in Virginia, it quickly became overwhelmed by unrelated comments, questions, and calls,” Alex Nester (political director of Parents Defending Education Action) told the DCNF. It was ineffective and it was quickly shut down after a few months.
Horne stated to the DCNF that the tip line had received almost 600 emails already and that there have been numerous unrelated complaints which the state Department of Education has ignored. Horne said that some radio station personnel have made prank phone calls to the hotline.
CRT believes that America is fundamentally racist. However, it teaches people how to see every person and social interaction in terms of their race. CRT’s adherents seek “antiracism” by pursuing the elimination of merit, objective truth, and adoption of race-based policy.
PDE Action expressed concern that tip information could be subject to public records requests. This could allow activists to harass parents or community members they don’t agree with. Horne assured the DCNF that although the tip line isn’t subject to public records requests, responses could be published with contact information and name.
The letter stated that “First and foremost, we are concerned about protecting children and their families.” A public records request may be made for any incident report that parents provide to the hotline. To harass parents or community members who are against race and gender in schools, activists could use a public record search to try to push an agenda.
The parent organization suggested that the Arizona Department of Education stop supporting Social Emotional Learning (SEL). This curriculum teaches students social skills to aid mental health and has been criticized for being a tenet of CRT. The parent organization recommended that the department cease promoting practices in school districts that allow students change their names and pronouns without permission from their parents.
Horne stated to the DCNF that they had received one tip about possible sexual abuse. Horne confirmed this to the DCNF. Horne said that the DCNF has received four to five tips. We are currently following up. The hotline just began, and most people aren’t aware of it yet. It will be a great help to them when they learn more.
After the election of a new Arizona Democratic Governor, the hotline was opened. Katie Hobbs vetoed legislation that would have banned the teaching of CRT to K-12 public school students. Schools found to have violated this legislation could be subject to fines of up $5,000.
Nester stated to the DCNF that public records, including emails could be made available through public records requests. Nester said that activists could use the hotline to shame parents who oppose divisive gender and race ideology in the classroom. It is crucial that state legislators and officials in the executive branch listen to constituents. This must be done in a professional manner.