Friday, February 10, 2012

Buying Your Silence: Arizona SB 1467

So, as some of you that follow me on Twitter may know (if you read the link I retweeted from Angus Johnson), Arizona lawmakers have proposed a new bill regarding the content of public school curricula.  As taken verbatim from the full bill text of Arizona State Bill 1467:

If a person who provides classroom instruction in a public school engages in speech or conduct that would violate the standards adopted by the federal communications commission concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity if that speech or conduct were broadcast on television or radio:
1. For the first occurrence, the school shall suspend the person, at a minimum, for one week of employment, and the person shall not receive any compensation for the duration of the suspension
2. For the second occurrence, the school shall suspend the person, at a minimum, for two weeks of employment, and the person shall not receive any compensation for the duration of the suspension
3. For the third occurrence, the school shall terminate the employment of the person.

Essentially, anything that could possibly be taught on a preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, or public college/university that the FCC wouldn't want on television or the radio cannot be taught if this passes.  Think the FCC episode of Family Guy, but with your schooling.

What have you read in your educational career that can't be shown on television or played on the radio?  The Glass Menagerie references opium dens.  The Red Badge of Courage describes the fallen remains of a soldier.  Catcher in the Rye depicts underage drinking.  What about history?  Are the bloody truths of war acceptable in this context?  What about racist lynchings?  That sort of thing couldn't be acceptable on TV, right?  What about law?  As Johnson points out in his blog, one of the most important student law cases involves a Vietnam protest in which a student wore a jacket with "Fuck the Draft" written across it.

This is unbridled, uncontrolled censorship.  It will prevent teachers and professors from doing their jobs.  It will severely hinder the educational experience of countless students.  And it will put a lot of money into a select few pockets.

What do I mean by this last statement?  The language of the bill explicitly mentions "public" educational institutions.  It stands to reason that teachers at PRIVATE institutions will not fall subject to these rules.  So what happens?  The robust curricula you could previously expect from public schools, colleges, and universities (and don't get snide about this.  Public institutions have more going for them than people let on, or at least they are capable having a lot going for them.  But that's for another day) will now only be available in private schools.  Schools with religious biases built into their mission.  Schools that fuction as for-profit machines.  Schools that operate on a clear rift in class standing among our population.  This is not just a method of silencing public educators.  It's a method of forcing you into the privatized, for-profit education system.  A system that does nothing to benefit students or educators.  Arizona's lawmakers are not just attempting to censor--they are trying to make you literally buy into that silence.  And for many poor families, they will either be buying their own silence, or forced into a further poverty-stricken silence.

The Family Guy clip posted above is the the expressed property of Seth Macfarlene and Fox Entertainment.  I claim no ownership over it.

I'd continue and cite more sources to back up this argument, but I'm just pissed off.