Arizona’s new hotline gets few calls about race-based lessons

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Arizona’s top education official says only a handful of complaints to a new state hotline for reporting lessons based on race have warranted an investigation.

PHOENIX — Only a handful of complaints from hundreds of calls to a new state hotline to report race-based lessons have warranted an 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 credible complaints.

“Most of them right now are prank calls,” Horne said. “But that is not going to deter us. We’re just going to ignore them.”

The Arizona Empower Hotline has been in operation since March 7. It was created specifically to target teachers who teach so-called critical race theory or any lesson that evokes race and ethnicity. State education officials say the hotline has so far received 2,000 emails and 600 calls and voice messages.

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

Many educational groups have accused Horne of politicizing his work. A group of teachers marched in protest at Horne’s office on Wednesday.

The Arizona Education Association recently took to Twitter and asked Horne to remove the hotline.

Other conservative-leaning states have instituted similar methods to eradicate curricula 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 he “received little to no volume” of pertinent calls, USA Today reported. In 2021, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson established an online portal for concerns about anything taught in the state’s public schools. Many used it to send him criticism.

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

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