An Arizona teacher raised the ire of parents when she told state lawmakers that parents should not get to choose what their children learn in school.
Special education teacher Alicia Messing made the remarks at an Arizona Senate Education Committee hearing last month. She was speaking against an Arizona bill that would ban books discussing sexuality and LGBT ideology in the state’s public schools.
“I have a master’s degree,” Messing said, “because when I got certified, I was told I had to have a master’s degree to be an Arizona certified teacher. We all have advanced degrees.”
“I have a Masters degree! We all have advanced degrees! What have parents got? Are we vetting the background of parents?” 🤡
Good bill @Wadsack4Arizona 👏🏼#SB1700 #ParentalRights #NoPornInSchools https://t.co/boXaMWKA6q pic.twitter.com/6ONe1a688I
— AZSuburbs 🌵 (@noprezzie2012) February 16, 2023
“What do the parents have?” she asked. “Are we vetting the backgrounds of our parents? Are we allowing parents to choose the curriculum and the books that our children are going to read? I think that it’s a mistake, and I’m just speaking from the heart.”
The teacher went on to argue that the purpose of public education is not to teach kids only what parents want them to be taught, but “what society needs them to be taught.”
Her comments sparked backlash on social media, with critics remarking that her statements are an “excellent endorsement for school choice” and make her sound like she “hates parents.”
The proposed bill she opposes would require the Arizona education department to “maintain a list of books that public educational institutions may not use or make available to students, including books that are lewd or sexual, promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns or groom children into normalizing pedophilia,” according to the bill’s fact sheet.
The bill also gives parents the right to request that books or curriculum materials be removed. The legislation also extends the public review periods for school library books and textbooks and does away with all exceptions to the curriculum approval process and school library access requirements.
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The Arizona Senate Education Committee ultimately greenlighted the bill in a 4 to 3 vote along party lines.
However, the Senate Rules Committee is still considering the bill, and it has not yet been scheduled to be heard on the Arizona Senate floor.
The bill is sponsored by state Senator Justine Wadsack (R), who herself is a mother and grandmother.
Wadsack promoted her bill as prohibiting “lewd, sexual content” in public schools.
“The Dems DENIED that this is even a problem,” she said in a tweet a day after the Senate education committee approved her bill. “They are coming for the children by normalizing perversion.”
Parental rights in public education has become a heated issue in recent years, especially since the pandemic.
Parents have shown up to school board meetings around the country to protest what they view as inappropriate content in their children’s school libraries and curricula.
Several other states have introduced legislation to crack down on explicit content in public schools.
In March, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s parental rights bill, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents, which prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
In Texas, one lawmaker introduced a bill that would require book publishers to have a content rating system — similar to the TV-rating system — for books they sell to state school districts.