By Ronald Sampson
It’s a new-ish day for Democrats in Arizona. Having finally captured the Governor’s seat they finally have some degree of legislative power. But since they couldn’t get a majority in either the Arizona House or the Arizona Senate, that legislative power is nearly purely relegated to the power of Governor Hobbs’s veto pen. While the ability to say yes to legislation you like would be preferred, the ability to stop legislation that you don’t like in its tracks certainly isn’t anything to scoff at.
And this is where Governor Hobbs lies, and she has already been busy with that veto pen (you can get up to date on Hobbs here). Her latest veto demonstrates what is very likely to be one of the most hot-button topics of her time in office: education.
In her 16th veto already in just two months, Hobbs recently vetoed a bill authored by J.D. Mesnard outlawing the teaching of “critical race theory” in schools. For those who are unaware, critical race theory, or CTR, is essentially a progressive educational approach that involves teaching “anti-racism”, the inherent advantages of being white, and other such race-heavy teachings that one would consider part of the curriculum of Oberlin College or Cal Berkeley.
This is an extension of a fight that has gone on across the country. Democrats have often been insistent that CRT is purely relegated to college campuses, but that isn’t necessarily true: aspects of it are often found in heavily Democratic school districts around the country. Republicans have rallied against it, also somewhat disingenuous in its concern that it is a present threat and will take over our schools.
Arizona is not California, Phoenix is not San Fran, so the concerns may well be overblown. However, they very well may not be, considering one of the biggest current educational issues in our state coming from the Washington Elementary School District. Their decision to end a contract with Arizona Christian University due to a difference in values is based on a push from governing board member Tamillia Valenzuela, who publicly and proudly describes herself as a “disabled, neurodivergent Queer Black Latina”. Considering her current prominence in the board and her description essentially being a walking advertisement for the purported importance of that subject material, it certainly seems like a school board that would be very comfortable with implementing CRT in their schools.
Hobbs didn’t offer up any particulars she disliked about the bill when asked, which itself was a bit of a tell and an indication as to what the next few years will likely look like. It will be ideological battles, left vs right. It will be much less about reaching across the aisle and much more about getting the other side on the record for being for this or against that.
Welcome to Arizona Governance in 2023 and 2024: little will get done and lots will get vetoed. I’m sure our Founding Fathers would be so proud.