Five GOP Senators in Arizona have introduced a bill in Arizona that would make the lives of teachers and professors a living hell inside and outside of school. Senator Al Melvin, Senator Andy Biggs, Senator Don Shooter, Senator Lori Klein, and Senator Steve Smith are the sponsors of SB 1467, which would prohibit teachers from engaging in “speech or conduct that would violate the standards adopted by the federal communications commission concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity if that speech or conduct were broadcast on television or radio.” In other words, teachers can’t do things that aren’t allowed on television.
Here is the full text of the bill:
“Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
A. If a person who provides classroom instruction in a public school engages in speech or conduct that would violate the standards adopted by the federal communications commission concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity if that speech or conduct were broadcast on television or radio:
1. For the first occurrence, the school shall suspend the person, at a minimum, for one week of employment, and the person shall not receive any compensation for the duration of the suspension. This paragraph does not prohibit a school after the first occurrence from suspending the person for a longer duration or terminating the employment of that person.
2. For the second occurrence, the school shall suspend the person, at a minimum, for two weeks of employment, and the person shall not receive any compensation for the duration of the suspension. This paragraph does not prohibit a school after the second occurrence from suspending the person for a longer duration or terminating the employment of that person.
3. For the third occurrence, the school shall terminate the employment of the person. This paragraph does not prohibit a school after the first or second occurrence from terminating the employment of that person.
B. For the purposes of this section, “public school” means a public preschool program, a public elementary school, a public junior high school, a public middle school, a public high school, a public vocational education program, a public community college or a public university in this state.”
The bill would require schools to fire public school teachers and college professors who use books or films in the classroom that contain any profanity. Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education says,
“The law not only hobbles the ability to teach about sexuality and other non-Victorian topics, but it also puts teachers in jeopardy for teaching such mainstays as The Canterbury Tales, The Catcher in the Rye, certainly Ulysses, and probably every work by an obscure English writer named William Shakespeare. These days, such a law could certainly make any professor or teacher think twice about teaching Mark Twain or Kurt Vonnegut. And how on earth could you possibly teach a class about cinema studies without showing movies like The Godfather, The Graduate, Annie Hall, or for that matter, Pulp Fiction?”
Teachers would even have difficulty educating students about free speech cases that went before the Supreme Court, and would require educators to teach certain historical material in a G rated manner. So basically you can forget about showing students a documentary about the cruelty of the Nazis during the Holocaust. In fact, the teachers may not even be able to watch it in their own homes. War photos may also be restricted. Teaching in such a manner would deprive students of fully learning about these topics and would hurt their understanding of history. Arizona lawmakers have already banned ethnic studies courses in schools and now they want to control everything that teachers do both on and off campus. It’s unconscionable.
But the bill goes further than that. Because the language in the bill doesn’t distinguish between public speech or conduct and just plain old speech or conduct, the law could even require schools to fire teachers who use profanity and have sex in their private lives away from school. This bill is a violation of privacy and free speech and is one of the most unconstitutional pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen. This proves that the GOP war against teachers is alive and well.