Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs Vetoes Bill Banning Critical Race Theory in K-12 Public Schools

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
March 10, 2023US News
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs Vetoes Bill Banning Critical Race Theory in K-12 Public Schools
Recently sworn-in Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs is pictured signing a document on Dec. 5, 2022. (Ross D. Franklin/Pool/AP Photo)

Democratic Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill this week that would have prohibited schools from teaching the concept of judging an individual on the basis of their race or ethnicity, or that certain races or ethnicities are inherently racist or oppressive.

Last month, lawmakers in the Arizona legislature passed state Senate Bill SB1305, which described a list of race-related topics to be prohibited in K-12 public schools in the state. On Thursday, Hobbs vetoed the bill.

The language of the bill prohibited “judging an individual on the basis of the individual’s race or ethnicity.” The bill further prohibited teaching:

  • “That one race or ethnic group is inherently morally or intellectually superior to another race or ethnic group.”
  • “That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or ethnicity, is inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
  • “That an individual should be invidiously discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race or ethnicity.”
  • “That an individual’s moral character is determined by the individual’s race or ethnicity.”
  • “That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or ethnicity, bears responsibility or blame for actions committed by other members of the same race or ethnic group.”
  • “That academic achievement, meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or were created by members of a particular race or ethnic group to oppress members of another race or ethnic group.”

The bill was passed by Republicans on a party-line vote in both the Arizona state House and state Senate. No Democrats voted in favor of the legislation.

“It is time to stop utilizing students and teachers in culture wars based on fearmongering and unfounded accusations,” Hobbs said as she vetoed the bill on Thursday. “Bills like SB1305 only serve to divide and antagonize.

“I urge the Legislature to work with me on the real issues affecting Arizona schools: underfunded classrooms, a growing educator retention crisis, and school buildings in need of repair and replacement,” Hobbs added.

Republican state Sen. J.D. Mesnard, who sponsored SB 1305, issued a statement (pdf) describing Hobbs’ move as “a slap in the face.”

“I’m deeply disheartened by Governor Hobbs’ choice to condone these discriminatory teachings our kids are being exposed to, by vetoing my bill,” he said.

In a press release (pdf), Republican state Rep. Beverly Pingerelli said Hobbs’ veto “sends a disturbing message that she is willing to allow racially divisive curriculum to be intentionally taught in Arizona classrooms.”

National Debate Over Racial Instruction In Classrooms

Other state legislatures have passed similar bills to SB1305 in recent years, prohibiting K-12 public schools from teaching certain racially-charged ideas. Florida’s Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act (pdf), for example, includes language prohibiting teaching the moral inferiority or superiority of any one race, or that a person’s race or ethnic background makes them inherently racist or oppressive, or that they should be discriminated against on that basis.

However, proponents of a complaint (pdf) against DeSantis’ Stop W.O.K.E. Act said they believed the law would “stifle widespread demands to discuss, study, and address systemic inequalities.” In the same document, they also defended Critical Race Theory as “a recognized academic theory and body of legal scholarship originated by legal scholars in the 1970s to identify and challenge the perpetuation of racial inequalities in social institutions and the law.”

Proponents of such bills have insisted they are not prohibiting instruction on past issues with racism and oppression in America. They believe that education on race in classrooms, however, is too often focused on specific ideological concepts about racism such as race-based “privilege,” or that certain demographics are inherently racist, or otherwise bear the responsibility to pay for the wrongdoings of bearers of their ethnicity. Mesnard said his bill “makes it clear that teaching about real historical events, including instances of racial hatred or discrimination such as slavery and Jim Crow, are perfectly acceptable topics of instruction.”

NTD News reached out to Hobb’s office for comment but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.

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