PHOENIX, Ariz. – Arizona lawmakers apparently are afraid of little. In recent years they adopted a law cracking down on illegal aliens when the federal government wouldn’t and demanded that presidential candidates prove their eligibility, although that plan was later vetoed.
Now they’re working on a bill to stop profanity by teachers in classrooms, and like the other disputes, it is igniting a firestorm.
It has passed 5-2 in committee and now moves forward to a vote in the full Arizona Senate.
It arose because of constituent complaints about children being exposed repeatedly to profanities spoken by teachers in classroom settings. State Sen. Lori Klein, R-Anthem, decided legislation was appropriate.
During the Senate committee hearing, Klein said she wished the issue could be left to the school boards, but, “I don’t feel they are protecting young, impressionable kids from offensive language.”
She pointed out that teachers are considered role models and the schools should be held to a higher standard. Not only that, if a teacher uses obscene language, she argued, it undermines what some parents are teaching in their homes.
Klein also worried about the hostile environment obscene language produces and said, “It is not a positive setting to encourage learning.”
The bill seeks to mimic Federal Communication Commission obscenity and profanity guidelines intended to protect children and apply them to the classroom. If passed into law, the bill states a teacher whose speech or conduct violates those listed regulations would receive first a warning, then after three incidents the teacher would be given a week of suspension without pay.
If the behavior continues, the teacher faces job termination. Only teachers in grades K-12 are addressed and the proposal is limited to a classroom setting.
Concerned parent Floyd Brown testified in favor of the bill, citing his 16-year-old daughter’s high school experience last year in which, “not only did the teacher uses profanities in the classroom, he encouraged the students to yell profanities at each other. He told them no words were off limits, but he also cautioned the students not to tell their parents or anyone else.”
Olivia Brown, the student involved, described her teacher’s words this way: “Say what you feel inside, if it’s bad release it. No word you say will be judged in this room. I’ve found that going around the room screaming out thoughts gets rid of all the negative energy. If you feel like you need to swear, swear! Release those bad feelings; it’s only a part of your artistic expression.”
Brown concluded his testimony asking, “Should children be protected in the classroom from the same obscene language that the FCC deems inappropriate and harmful to children? Broadcasters are prohibited from saying these words on the radio or TV during the hours children would most likely be listening, why shouldn’t children be protected at school which, by law, they must attend?”
Brown continued, “It’s just common sense, but I’m sad to say that this law is needed to protect children. Profanity is a widespread problem that needs to be addressed to help facilitate a more respectful and civilized society.”
Opposition to the bill is being voiced by the ACLU, Teachers for Social Justice and other left-leaning political organizations.