Don’t Let Arizona Trample on Teachers’ Right to Free Speech

Target: Steve Pierce, President of the Arizona State Senate

Goal: Do not restrict educators’ right to free speech

What goes on in public school classrooms has long been the subject of some controversy. Teachers must watch every word they say, selecting books and topics that will challenge students, but at the same time will not be considered to be particularly offensive or inappropriate. However, there are many areas of study and pieces of literature that are considered essential to the educational process that have a controversial reputation.

In spite of their coarse language, salacious content, or transgressive ideas, these materials are an important part of the curriculum. The Arizona state legislature is now considering the passage of a bill that would restrict these materials, as well as censor teachers’ conduct in and out of the classroom. This new law would expand the banned and controversial books list to include such works as the dictionary. Why? Because there are curse words in it. Many other classic and well-loved books would be removed from schools too.

That is far from the most appalling part of the bill. The bill would force teachers to abide by Federal Communications Commission regulations outside of school. These rules are strict, bordering on irrational. While the regulations may be necessary and effective for network television, they have no place in a person’s real life.

Educators already tread carefully in the classroom, watching their every word and action. That is expected and necessary—they are professionals and must conduct themselves as such while at work. However, their personal lives are just that: personal. What they do outside of school is nobody’s business but their own, assuming that it does not hurt anyone else. This proposed law is ludicrous, invasive, and un-American. Tell Arizona not to infringe on educators’ rights to free speech and privacy.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Pierce,

As Americans we enjoy a wide variety of rights. Two of the most valued and important of these rights are our freedom of speech and our right to privacy. We vehemently guard these rights, fighting tooth and nail whenever they appear to be threatened. However, the law that your state is currently considering, the law that would force teachers to abide by Federal Communications Commission regulations at all times, poses a credible threat to these rights.

The bill, SB 1467, would hurt both teachers and students. Even more books would be placed on the banned list and made inaccessible to students. Classics such as the The Canterbury Tales and resources including the dictionary would be eligible for banning because they contain obscene language. Of course it is important to keep obscenity out of schools, but not at the cost of our youth’s education.

Even more shocking is how this bill would affect educators. Teachers already obey strict guidelines and codes of conduct in the classroom—every word that comes out of their mouths, every interaction with students they have, are carefully chosen. They are professionals, and it is only appropriate that they act as such. However, outside of the workplace their lives are theirs to live. Your bill would seek to regulate their lives to a ridiculous degree, forcing them to obey FCC regulations at home. SB 1467 would monitor and dictate every aspect of teachers’ lives.

This bill is a disgusting violation of the First Amendment. It is appalling to think that the state of Arizona would make such a blatant attempt at censorship. Passage of this bill would hurt your schools and infringe upon the rights of your teachers. Please, Senator Pierce, do not let this bill pass.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: euthman via flickr

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