Arizona launches 'anti-woke' parent hotline to report critical race theory, gender lessons
Arizona school superintendent launches 'Empower Hotline' as test scores 'hit bottom'
Arizona is becoming the latest state to fight back against far-left indoctrination in the classroom by launching an "anti-woke" hotline for parents to report inappropriate course curriculum.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Horne deployed the "Empower Hotline" for concerned parents to report topics their children are learning at school, including subjects like critical race theory and gender ideology.
"We've asked parents to call in when they become aware of inappropriate teaching," Horne told "Fox & Friends First" Wednesday. "As you mentioned, that would include lessons that focus on race or ethnicity rather than individuals on merit, gender ideology, social-emotional learning, or inappropriate sexual content."
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"Then when we get those calls, we investigate them to see if there's inappropriate teaching that detracts from academics," he continued.
Horne launched the hotline this week, which operates during typical business hours, in a bid to fulfill his campaign promise of eradicating "inappropriate" material from classrooms across the state.
The effort comes as many school districts nationwide struggle to meet basic proficiency standards, which some critics blame on the pandemic, while others point to the heightened shift focusing on controversial social issues.
There were a whopping 23 Baltimore schools that reported no students were proficient in math, according to 2022 data released by the Maryland State Department of Education.
Another 55 Chicago schools reported no students were proficient in math or reading, according to a Wirepoints report analyzed from Illinois Department of Education data.
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But Horne wants Arizona to reverse this trend, pouring more resources into the core tenets of academics while shying away from contemporary topics.
"There have been very negative trends in society and in our public schools," Horne said. "My predecessor was a Democrat who emphasized woke ideology in all those categories I mentioned, and we've got to fight back and bring the power back to the parents and stop the woke teaching and focus on academics."
"Test scores have hit the bottom of the well," he continued. "We've got to get the test scores up. In order to do that, we need to focus on academics, and we need to get rid of these other distractions from academics."
Horne noted that there has been a significant amount of positive feedback from parents, although there has been some criticism.
One Arizona teacher, who scrutinized the measure in a viral TikTok, accused the state of implementing the hotline due to White supremacy.
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"Looks like Arizona is giving the DeSantis' Florida a run for its money now in being the most fascist White supremacist state in the country," Sari Beth Rosenberg said. "So I think maybe we should call this hotline and let them know how we feel because they had to shut down that Virginia hotline that Governor Youngkin set up back in November, so maybe we should call."
But Horne dismissed the criticism, arguing that "race is completely irrelevant" and children must be taught the importance of merit instead.
"I'm the exact opposite of a white supremacist, I believe we're all individuals," Horne said. "We're brothers and sisters under the skin. All that matters about is what we know, what we can do, what is our character, what is our ability to appreciate beauty, and race is completely irrelevant."
"Critical race theory teaches the opposite that race is primary, and we want to get the focus back on the individual and individual merit and get the focus away from race, which in my opinion, is not relevant to anything," he continued.
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Arizona's "Empower Hotline" is not the only one of its kind, however.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R., has made education a primary focus of his administration and deployed a similar tip line last year in order for parents to report instances of "inherently divisive concepts" found in schools.
Horne argued it is wrong to expose students, a "captive audience," to educators' personal ideology, and warned there would be repercussions for those who choose to do so.
"The taxpayers pay teachers a salary to teach the… academic standards that have been adopted by the state, they're not there to use a captive audience to push a personal ideology," Horne said. "I consider that to be unprofessional, and it could lead to discipline."