The Arizona Legislature’s Weird Efforts to Meddle in Higher Education

New legislation in Arizona would punish professors for swearing while teaching. Really.

According to an article by Mitch Smith at Inside Higher Ed:

The “G-rated” bill would require colleges to suspend or fire an instructor who “engages in speech or conduct that would violate the standards adopted by the Federal Communications Commission concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity if that speech were broadcast on television or radio.” The first four-letter word would bring at least a one-week suspension without pay. By the third violation, the instructor would have to be terminated.

How this is supposed to improve education is unclear.

The bill was introduced by Lori Klein, a Republican lawmaker from central Arizona. Back in July Klein briefly achieved notoriety after pointing a loaded gun at a reporter interviewing her. But at least she didn’t swear!

Meanwhile Arizona’s House of Representatives recently held a hearing about a bill to prevent Arizona colleges, according to an article by Howard Fischer in the Verde Independent, from “using any faculty member’s political or religious beliefs in making hiring decisions.” Rep. Tom Forese introduced a bill to that effect, HB 2770, because, he said, “universities and community colleges, many of them lean to the left. They have very liberal views that are openly encouraged and expressed on their campuses.”

He was, according to Fischer, unable cite an single incident in Arizona history where an academic’s conservative political views had an adverse effect on hiring or tenure.

Meanwhile, Arizona governor Jan Brewer planned to cut university funding 20 percent and reduce state support for community colleges by 47 percent.

Glad to know the state has its priorities in order.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer