Stop K-12 Indoctrination

Who's Afraid of a Code of Ethics

Spreading fear about commonsense education reform in Arizona

*This op-ed was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star

Angry voices have been spreading misinformation about State Rep. Mark Finchem’s proposal for a code of ethics for Arizona educators. Headlines have misleadingly portrayed HB 2002 as a punitive attack on teachers instead of providing badly needed guidelines that protect students, parents and educators.

America is deeply divided. Anger over political differences has broken up friendships and families. The ugliness has spilled into workplaces and even classrooms, pitting teachers against students and parents.

Partisan classroom environments have led to student suspensions and teacher firings. Parents have pulled children out of schools, and covert videos of teachers have led to threats against schools.

HB 2002 and similar proposals offer us a way out.

As Rep. Finchem has noted, a code of ethics has been called for by parents, students and teachers. HB 2002 defends the civil rights of students and parents, while protecting teachers from criticism by offering commonsense guidelines for incorporating politics into classroom discussions.

The code of ethics doesn’t ban teachers from discussing politics. Instead, it turns hostile confrontations into meaningful exchanges of ideas.

And that’s what America needs now.

Star columnist Tim Steller portrayed HB 2002 as an attack on “Arizona liberals”. But the bill asks all teachers to refrain from “political, ideological or religious advocacy in their classrooms” or supporting or opposing candidates and bills in the classroom, including HB 2002.

What could be fairer?

HB 2002 also warns against segregating or scapegoating by race.

It’s sad that 64 years after Brown v. Board of Education, there’s actual support for racial segregation and scapegoating in the classroom.

Can anyone opposing a call not to “segregate students according to race” really be liberal?

Opponents of HB 2002 have dragged the David Horowitz Freedom Center into the argument.

Horowitz and the Freedom Center have popularized the idea that students deserve to be free of political indoctrination, and our civil-rights advocacy has inspired state lawmakers across the country.

But HB 2002 is the work of engaged parents, teachers and legislators in Arizona.

Some columnists have smeared Horowitz, fighting pro-student and pro-teacher legislation through a campaign of slander and innuendo against a civil-rights activist.

An op-ed in the Arizona Republic by E.J. Montini claims that HB 2002 has a “racist origin” and accuses us of “racist overtones,” but can’t even correctly spell Horowitz’s name.

“It is not difficult to figure out where Horwitz is coming from,” Montini wrote.

It isn’t. But the people misrepresenting his views can’t even bother getting his name right.

The Freedom Center is not “anti-Black,” as the African-American thinkers who write for it and attend its events could tell you.

The racism accusations come from the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, which had to pay out $3.3 million after accusing a Muslim activist of being an “Anti-Muslim Extremist”.

The entire campaign against HB 2002 has been shot through with misinformation large and small, from false statements to basic misspellings, while spreading fear about a commonsense education reform.

No one is trying to get teachers fired. There’s no vast right wing conspiracy. Just a code of ethics.

And who’s afraid of a code of ethics anyway?