Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Russell Pearce - the gift that keeps on giving

Edit on 4/17 to update the committee's actions, at the end of the original post...

Here I was, all set to write a post on the inanity of a couple of the AZ Republic's columnists (not unusual) and another on the Obama/'bitter' dustup (overblown), but those can wait - State Rep. Russell Pearce (R-National Alliance) is at it again.

Last week, he was cutting arts funding; this week, he's micromanaging public education.

He has introduced another 'strike-everything' amendment to a bill to be heard in his own committee, House Appropriations. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

As noted in this post from last week, he introduced an anti-arts education funding amendment to SB1192. Joining it on Wednesday's Appropriations agenda is an amendment to SB1108.

This new amendment would, among other things -

- - bar a public school from offering "any courses, classes or school sponsored activities that promote, assert as truth or feature as an exclusive focus any political, religious, ideological or cultural beliefs or values that denigrate, disparage or overtly encourage dissent from the values of American democracy and western civilization, including democracy, capitalism, pluralism and religious toleration."

- - give the Superintendent of Public Instruction the authority to review a school's curricula and course materials and to withhold state funds if he finds that there are any violations.

- - bar public schools, community colleges and universities from allowing "organizations to operate on the campus of the school, university or community college if the organization is based in whole or in part on race-based criteria."

Something tells me that he's not targeting campus chapters of the KKK, the College Republicans, or similar organizations with that last. :)

Anyway, perhaps one of Rep. Pearce's colleagues should let him know that one of the character traits of most Americans is that we do NOT like being told how to think -

His attempt to stifle dissent may actually *encourage* it far more than any class that discusses a system that is something other than "American democracy and western civilization" ever could.

Edit on 4/17 -

As expected, the Appropriations Committee passed Pearce's amendment to SB1108 to restrict public school curricula and extracurricular activities.

From the AZ Republic -
Arizona public schools would be barred from any teachings considered counter to democracy or Western civilization under a proposal endorsed Wednesday by a legislative panel.

Additionally, the measure would prohibit students of the state's universities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their members, such as the Black Business Students Association at Arizona State University or Native Americans United at Northern Arizona University. Those groups would be forbidden from operating on campus.

The brainchild of Rep. Russell Pearce, the measure appeared as an amendment to Senate Bill 1108, which originally would have made minor changes to the state's Homeland Security advisory councils. The House Appropriations Committee approved the new proposal on a 9-6 vote.

It may be too late in the session for this to be more than a little showboating by Pearce - the amended bill still has to be passed by the full House, returned to the Senate, heard in committee there, and passed by the full Senate...and if all of that happens, it would still face the Governor.

I won't say that all of that can't happen, but it's unlikely.

On the other hand, enactment of the measure may never have been Pearce's intent (though he certainly wouldn't object to it!) -

For a day or two, people will be distracted from the fact that Pearce's committee still hasn't done its work on dealing with the state's budget deficit.

End edit...

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