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Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs isn’t likely to get much accomplished during her four-year term that just began as long as the state legislature remains in Republican control.
On Thursday, Hobbs vetoed a bill that sought to prohibit public schools from teaching critical race theory. The proposed legislation had provisions to impose fines of up to $5,000 on schools found guilty of instructing the contentious concept, The Center Square reported.
“It is time to stop utilizing students and teachers in culture wars based on fearmongering and unfounded accusations. Bills like SB1305 only serve to divide and antagonize,” Hobbs noted in a veto letter she sent to GOP Senate President Warren Petersen.
“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,” she noted further.
Hobbs’ 2022 Republican opponent, Kari Lake, responded in Twitter: “We warned you she was a radical. Welcome to an Arizona where they teach race-based hatred to your kids.”
We warned you she was a radical.
Welcome to an Arizona where they teach race-based hatred to your kids.
— Kari Lake War Room (@KariLakeWarRoom) March 10, 2023
Since taking office in January, Hobbs has vetoed 16 pieces of legislation covering a broad range of topics, the outlet reported further, adding:
The bill, sponsored by Sen. J.D. Mesnard, is similar to action taken by Republicans in states such as Florida and Arkansas.
Republicans, including those in the Arizona Senate, have frequently made the case that teaching about racism in the United States in a historical context is not what they’re trying to ban, but rather concepts that would they believe would divide students by race.
“I’m deeply disheartened by Governor Hobbs’ choice to condone these discriminatory teachings our kids are being exposed to, by vetoing my bill,” said Mesnard in a statement issued on Thursday following Hobbs’ veto, The Center Square noted.
“As lawmakers, we are called to protect the vulnerable, including impressionable and innocent kids. Her action today is a slap in the face to parents who came forward with serious concerns about the racism being taught in their children’s classrooms,” he added, according to the outlet.
Rep. Beverly Pingerelli, the House Education Committee Chair who sponsored the House version of the bill, expressed concern that Hobbs’ veto sends a “disturbing message.”
“Governor Hobbs’ veto sends a disturbing message that she is willing to allow racially divisive curriculum to be intentionally taught in Arizona classrooms,” Pingerelli noted, per the outlet. “This sort of ugly, prejudicial ideology presents a distorted and destructive history and worldview that exacerbates racial tension and anxiety within our children and society. Whether it’s promoted in the classroom, or through programs from companies such as Disney, it’s wrong, and it must end.”
In Republican-run states, legislatures and governors have banned CRT from classrooms, including those in South Dakota.
Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order banning critical race theory curricula and instruction in the state’s K-12 schools in April 2022 after efforts to enact similar legislation failed.
According to Fox News, the order instructs the state Department of Education to ensure no materials are teaching “divisive concepts” based on race.
Political indoctrination has no place in our classrooms,” Noem, a Republican, noted in a statement. “Our children will not be taught that they are racists or that they are victims and they will not be compelled to feel responsible for the mistakes of their ancestors.
“We will guarantee that our students learn America’s true and honest history – that includes both our triumphs and our mistakes,” she added.
The same month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation banning CRT in the state’s classrooms.
HB 7, also known as the “Individual Freedom” bill, prohibits educators from instructing on specific subjects related to race and aims to prevent students from experiencing shame or guilt about their racial identity due to past events, WPTV reported.
“We believe in education, not indoctrination,” DeSantis told reporters at a news conference ahead of signing the legislation. “We believe an important component of freedom in the state of Florida is the freedom from having oppressive ideologies opposed upon you without your consent.”
“We are not gonna use your tax dollars to teach our kids to hate this country or to hate each other,” DeSantis added.