AP U.S.

New Arizona hotline sees few calls about race-based lessons

PHOENIX (AP) — Only a handful of complaints out of hundreds of calls to a new state hotline for reporting race-based lessons have warranted investigation, Arizona’s top education official said Friday.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne told radio station KTAR News that the Arizona Department of Education found half a dozen complaints to be credible.

“The majority at this point are prank calls,” Horne said. “But we’re not going to be dissuaded by that. We’re just going to ignore them.”

The Arizona Empower Hotline has been in operation since March 7. It was set up specifically for allegations of teachers teaching so-called critical race theory or any lessons that evoke race and ethnicity. State education officials say the hotline so far has received 2,000 emails and 600 calls and voicemails.

There has been a social media campaign to flood the tip line with either prank calls or messages praising teachers.

Many education groups have accused Horne of politicizing their jobs. A group of teachers marched in protest to Horne’s office on Wednesday.

The Arizona Education Association recently went on Twitter and called on Horne to eliminate the hotline.

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Other conservative-leaning states have established similar methods to root out curriculum that invoke race or ethnicity.

In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin created a tip line in January 2022. But his office said it was deactivated in September after it “received little to no volume” of pertinent calls, USA Today reported. In 2021, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson established an online portal for concerns about anything being taught in the state’s public schools. Many used it to send in criticisms of him.

In Louisiana, Attorney General Jeff Landry spearheaded a Protecting Minors tip line in November for complaints about teachers as well as library staff. Louisiana Illuminator, a nonprofit news organization, determined through a public records request that the majority of complaints have been memes and spam.

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