Teaching kids “Critical Race Theory” is bad enough, but putting it into practice is even worse. That’s why Arizona voters deserve the chance to pass HCR2001 and ensure that state-run educational institutions are stopped from discriminating against prospective teachers, students, and staff simply because their skin color doesn’t check the right box.
Sponsored by Rep. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, the proposed ballot measure would strengthen Arizona’s existing protections against state-sanctioned racial discrimination in hiring and admissions — protections that Arizonans themselves overwhelmingly voted to enact in the state Constitution in 2010, approving them by a 19-point margin.
Unfortunately, under pressure from the White House and home-grown activists alike, efforts are being made to circumvent these existing protections. The “Recommended Next Steps” from among members of the Scottsdale Unified School District’s “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Planning & Implementation Team” declared, for instance: “What are we hoping to achieve…For the district’s next steps would be looking at changing who they allow to hire on, by this I don’t mean take away from the amazing staff that is already there, but adding to it with diversity.”
In other words, while district staffers are happy to keep their own jobs, they believe no new candidates ought to be allowed the same opportunity unless they are sufficiently “diverse,” a euphemism the committee members themselves acknowledge refers only to “hiring more BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] teachers/staff.”
At the same time, local activists like the director of the “Racial Equity Advancement Project” at the conglomeration of Arizona corporate executives, Greater Phoenix Leadership, have recently warned that “HCR2001 would constitutionally prohibit contracting equity.”
“Prohibiting contracting equity” sure sounds like a bad idea, until one realizes that what the equity guru is referring to is HCR 2001’s declaration that: “This state may not under any circumstance disadvantage or treat differently on the basis of race or ethnicity any individual from among any pool of applicants, students, employees or contract recipients when making a hiring, contracting, promotion or admission decision.”
In other words, “contracting equity” is just the warmed-over rebranding of racial discrimination in hiring and contracting practices. But regardless of what its enablers would call it, HCR2001 would stop it.
Meanwhile, the board president of Save Our Schools Arizona recently declared in opposition to HCR2001 — writing in the pages of this newspaper — that racism was a “zero-sum game and that America’s redemption was dependent on white men giving up jobs, money and power against their will, for the betterment of all…They would never do it gladly, but at some point the nation…would be forced to balance itself along sex and race lines…The unpaid debt of systemic oppression of women and people of color would ultimately come due.”
Ethnic and racial quotas to “balance” out the outcomes desired by such “equity” activists run counter to the fundamental American ideal of equality before the law. Our state institutions — including our schools and colleges — must reject these efforts to reduce individuals to their skin color.
Unfortunately, such efforts are increasingly also being promoted from the federal government, with President Joe Biden’s White House not only calling for the implementation of the teachings of Ibram Kendi and the 1619 Project into K-12 curriculum, but insisting that federal grants be conditioned on schools’ adherence to “equity,” and demanding the proliferation of “chief diversity officers” in place of those promoting “equal employment opportunity.” Arizona must ensure that such ideological radicalism is not used as a pretext to pressure or allow our state schools to treat any individual as lesser on account of his or her race.
There is no doubt that Arizona students will benefit if state lawmakers stop public schools from teaching kids to treat each other differently based upon race. But ultimately, actions speak louder than words, and our public educational institutions must lead by example and never reduce our teachers, students, or staff to merely the color of their skin. HCR2001 will ensure they never do.
Matt Beienburg is director of education policy and director of the Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy at the Goldwater Institute.