New hotline gives parents ability to report teachers who lead ‘inappropriate lessons’

Tom Horne says his office will investigate only if a hotline tip can be verified.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 5:44 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2023 at 5:49 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A new hotline lets parents report teachers directly to the state if they think they’re teaching anything inappropriate. This is part of the GOP-led effort to keep critical race theory out of classrooms, but the hotline is open to all complaints, and it has a lot of teachers on edge.

State Superintendent Tom Horne believes this hotline will give parents more say in their child’s education. On the other hand, the head of the state teacher’s union has concerns that it could be abused and will only worsen the teacher shortage. “If they are using their position to push their personal ideology on a captive audience of kids, that is wrong and they need to stop,” said Horne.

Horne is calling it the Empowerment Hotline — a number for parents to turn in teachers for leading inappropriate lessons in the classroom. Horne followed through on an election promise to remove critical race theory from Arizona’s schools. “I have a list of 250 Arizona teachers that signed a public statement so I can furnish the list, put out by the national teachers union that said if a state restricts the teaching of critical race theory, they would defy the law,” he said.

Horn provided Arizona’s Family with that list. It’s linked to the Zinn Education Project, an organization that says they are committed to teaching the truth of American history, even if it defies the law. “They would not sign that list unless they were already teaching critical race theory,” Horne said.

“It’s teachers saying they are committed to teaching accurate history which is not what he is talking about,” said Marisol Garcia, President of the Arizona Education Association. Garcia claims there is no evidence that CRT is being taught in schools. “It’s just not happening,” she said.

She says what Arizona is suffering from is a teacher shortage reaching crisis levels. “This is a disaster. This is not conducive to helping people stay in schools,” Garcia explained.

According to Garcia, teachers are already struggling with overfilled classrooms. Now there’s the new fear of being reported. “When I got into work this morning my email was full. I think what it does is it signals we don’t trust educators. We don’t trust principals, we don’t trust school boards,” said Garcia.

The hotline launches on Wednesday night. It’s managed by the Department of Education. Horne said he knows things could be exaggerated, so if the tip can be verified, only then will officials from the Department of Education investigate.