Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill that would have banned critical race theory instruction in public schools.
The legislation would have fined schools up to $5,000 per violation if they were found teaching the controversial concept.
“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 said in her veto letter to 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 added. Hobbs has vetoed a wide range of legislation 16 times since taking office in January.
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,” Mesnard said in a statement on Thursday. “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.”
House Education Committee Chair, Rep. Beverly Pingerelli, who sponsored the House equivalent of the bill, said that Hobbs is putting forth 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 said. “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.”