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The Arizona legislature, in conjunction with Gov. Jan Brewer and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Goldwater Institute, is going on a full-out assault on unions, teachers and the state's education system, which already ranks as last in the nation in per-pupil spending. Workers and unions are standing up to the right-wing assault on working families and students in the state. More than 100 rallied at the capitol last week, including State Sen. Steve Gallardo:
It’s time for us to say enough! Let’s not let these bills see the light of day. Let’s focus on the real priorities of the state of Arizona—jobs, the economy, health care, education. Those are the priorities of Arizona, not the type of legislation that is pushed by the Goldwater Institute.
In addition to assaults on unions and workers' rights, the legislature is going after teachers:
“Some believe that many anti-education legislators see this session as their last chance to force their legislation through because new, more competitive legislative district boundaries will take effect for the 2012 election,” said spokesman Doug Kilmore in an e-mail to members of Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union.
"Extremist groups are marshaling their forces in the legislature to attack public schools, public institutions, and public workers before they risk losing their super-majority."
The harsh bills Kilgore refers to include arbitrary performance pay measures, expansions to voucher programs, and takeover schemes where “failing” public schools can be closed and turned into charter schools. Bills targeting colleges and universities would increase tuition dramatically, allow concealed weapons to be carried on campuses (seriously) and protect conservative instructors from (mostly imaginary) persecution.
Most of the aforementioned legislation is boilerplate ALEC anti-public ed stuff. But there’s one very strange bill, S.B. 1467, the provenance of which is puzzling. It would require all public school instructors, from K-12 to university level, to comply with FCC regulations in their conduct. Penalties would range from suspension for the first outburst of “obscenity, indecency, or profanity” to termination for repeated violations.