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Weis Cribs Teacher Code of Silence from Arizona Bill and Radical Teacher-Hater David Horowitz

Kaleb Weis can’t even be an original fascist.

It appears that District 2 Republican rookie Representative Kaleb Weis cribbed his teacher code of silence, House Bill 1113, from Republican Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem’s House Bill 2002, a very similar teacher-hating bill filed last month down in Snowbirdistan. Weis’s language on all the civic affairs on which teachers must remain silent largely copies Finchem’s bill word for word. The Weis Code omits just one key Finchem provision forbidding teachers from “singl[ing] out one racial group of students as being responsible for the suffering or inequities experienced by another racial group of students.” Weis imposes his teacher muzzle at the local level, mandating that each school board compose its own Weis Code, while Finchem directs the Arizona State Board of Education and State Superintendent of Public Schools to write a statewide teacher code of silence.

But Weis’s copycat sally into bashing and silencing teachers is just like Finchem’s in its unfunded mandate (three hours of additional training for all teachers on how to shut their mouths) and its superfluity: just like South Dakota, Arizona already has standards of professional conduct for all teachers that already cover anything resembling the concerns Weis and Finchem profess about bad teachers.

Since Weis is just copying Finchem’s teacher-bashing, let’s see what folks are saying about the Finchem Code:

Finchem’s bill is widely seen as a retaliation for teacher activism:

Local educators interviewed by the Arizona Daily Star said they already teach students how to think, not what to think.

They said this makes them think Finchem proposed the legislation in response to the teacher-led #RedForEd movement, which resulted in a statewide strike in April that prompted Gov. Doug Ducey and the Legislature to increase teacher salaries by 20 percent over three years, and to restore $100 million of the $386 million in capital funding for education that Ducey had cut [Brenna Bailey, “Arizona Lawmaker Would Fire Teachers Who Discuss Politics, ‘Controversial Issues’ in Class,” Arizona Daily Star, 2018.12.30].

But even Finchem isn’t original in his teacher bashing. He appears to have copied his legislation from a group backed by virulent right-wing activist David Horowitz:

The language of an Arizona legislator’s proposed educator code of ethics restricting teachers from engaging in political advocacy in the classroom was lifted from a campaign by a far-right organization.

Representative Mark Finchem, a Republican from Oro Valley near Tucson, introduced HB 2002 last month. The nine points of Finchem’s proposed ethical code are identical to the proposed code of ethics from the Stop K-12 Indoctrination campaign, a project sponsored by the far-right, anti-Muslim David Horowitz Freedom Center [Steven Hsieh and Joseph Flaherty, “Arizona Lawmaker Lifted Teacher Code of Ethics from Far-Right Group,” Phoenix New Times, 2019.01.03].

Great: more angry legislation pushed by out-of-state interests. Read the Horowitz group’s code, and you’ll see that Weis also lifted some of their Whereas language for his House Concurrent Resolution 1002.

Here’s the dot-connecting from the guy who scooped this connection, blogger Peter Greene:

If we roll the clock back to January of 2018, we find Dave LaRock, a Virginia choicer, proposing a Teacher Code of Ethics that reads like a rough draft of the Pa and AZ versions. But it turns out that LaRock appears to have cribbed his proposal from a website called StopK12Indoctrination. 

StopK12 posted their version of the Teacher Code of Ethics in June of 2017, and it’s clear that the other teacher codes are all versions of this original. But who are the StopK12 people? The site is remarkably clear of any “who we are” information. However, there are several videos featuring Sean Fitzgerald, who is elsewhere tagged as the site’s editor. And if you decide you want to contribute to the muzzling of teachers, the link will take you to a site that will let you contribute to the David Horowitz Freedom Center [Peter Greene, “AZ: Proposed Teacher Gag Law Part of National Push,” Curmudgucation, 2018.12.27].

Horowitz stands for the opposite of fact-based education with his right-wing propaganda:

Horowitz is a well-established hard right writer and activist who is just ballsy enough to put his name right there on his lead organization (David Horowitz Freedom Center). His Center for the Study of Popular Culture has been tagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the “right-wing foundations and think tanks support[ing] efforts to make bigoted and discredited ideas respectable.” He’s a vocal anti-Muslim who joined the smear party labeling Barack Obama a secret Muslim. He has been very active in trying to squelch liberal voices in college and university teaching positions. And, perhaps most notably, this Steve Bannon buddy was the early mentor of Stephen Miller, the angry voice of racism in the Trump administration [Greene, 2018.12.27].

Trumpists like Weis hate public education because facts and critical thinking—the stuff teachers public school teachers labor mightily to teach every day—flatly contradict the fantasy and fascism at the core of the Weis/Trump worldview. Teachers thus become the enemy and must be muzzled so the lies Weis loves from Trump, Horowitz, Bannon, and Miller can enjoy free rein in the public sphere.

Weis can’t even bring us original debates about actual South Dakota issues. He’s just parroting the Breitbartiana he imbibes from outside agitators looking to use our Legislature as a stage for their beefs and a feather in their caps. Weis is mindless cog in a larger machine waging war against good teaching and critical thinking.

Related Reading: 

  • Let’s hope Kaleb Weis doesn’t copy Mark Finchem’s lying: the Arizona legislator claimed he crafted his bill in response to “being inundated with calls, emails, letters and mostly personal encounters” with parents concerned about their kids being indoctrinated. Through a public records request, The Arizona Republic found that Finchem heard from one parent by e-mail about this issue… after he filed his bill.


  1. Donald Pay 2019-01-31

    Great. There’s a bill mill for haters, now, probably funded by the Russians. Well, why not the rich corporate interests have ALEC, and the cuckoo haters gotta have their own bill mill.

  2. Porter Lansing 2019-01-31

    [Kaleb] Weis is mindless cog in a larger machine waging war against good teaching and critical thinking. – CAH

  3. o 2019-01-31

    When a group demonizes teachers and public education, two motives are in play: 1) the ability to argue to under-fund public education (because it is “bad”) – keep taxes low; and 2) shift money from public education to the hands of private entities. Corporate capitalists see a huge amount of public money being invested in public education and it galls them to not have their paws in that honey pot.

    We must be weary of and vigilant exposing both those motives.

  4. Donald Pay 2019-01-31

    Better check all these bills to see where they come from. In the past I have pasted a paragraph of bill text into google and…ding, ding, ding…up pops some bills that righties have introduced into numerous state legislatures. They can’t seem to deal with real issues in South Dakota, so they import hate, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it was imported ultimately from Russia.

  5. Rorschach 2019-01-31

    Put Weis into the Taylor “wackies” column.

  6. Justin Roemmick 2019-01-31

    Jenae “Hindsight” Hansen 2020!

  7. Debbo 2019-01-31

    These legislation mills funded by the Wrong are really poor government. They’re not local, not transparent, irrespective of the will of the people and focused on supporting the agenda of a wealthy and/or mentally ill few.

    I have been searching for, but can’t find, the link for some annecdotal private school horror stories about what is taught. “Electricity is an invisible mystery no one understands,” was in one textbook. Anything critical of the dominant white male culture is distorted or ignored entirely. Students went to college and were shocked at basic things they’d Never Heard Of that are common knowledge to the rest of us.

    Two of the good things we’ve been able to glean from the really bad thing, Demented Donnie, is that there are more deranged, ignorant and fearful people out there than we realized and we moderates/liberals/critical thinkers had become far too complacent.

    We have to fight against the damage the Wrong is inflicting and rebuild the USA. It’s going to take time, easily a generation or more, but it’s completely worth it.

  8. Donald Pay 2019-01-31

    Here’s a suggestion for transparency in government, assuming that isn’t just a public relations slogan and campaign “promise” not meant to be kept.

    Hoghouse that bill “to enhance…” and turn it into this: “A Bill to enhance the transparency of the origin of legislation. I suggest the body of the bill can read something along the lines of:

    “Any proposal for a bill draft submitted to the Legislative Research Council shall specify the source of any words or concepts from which the proposal was written and the person or persons from whom those words or concepts were derived.”

    I would also require that of sponsors of initiatives.

    I’ve never liked bill mills, and canned model legislation. I realize their are uses for those models in standardizing codes across states, but legitimate use of models must be separated from special interest model legislation. Legitimate model legislation has always been transparent, but these bill mills are usually stealth operations, and not open about how these bills are developed.

    If legislators can’t come up with their own concepts and ideas for bills from their own constituents, and depend on these bill mills to do their jobs, then that fact should be known. They can still introduce these monstrosities, because that’s their right under the SD Constitution, but the fact that they are doing the bidding of out-of-state kooks will at least be transparently disclosed.

  9. Debbo 2019-01-31

    Minnesota is one of the better states for teachers, but a study released today shows that it’s far from rosy here too.

    52% of licensed teachers in the state, just over 70,000, are not teaching.

    “Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, the teachers union, said the results aren’t surprising. Low salaries are only part of the problem for former teachers.

    “The stresses of overcrowded classrooms and the unmet mental health needs of many students have pushed out others,” Specht said. “Minnesota schools are starving for additional resources. If the state Legislature doesn’t deliver them this year, I’m sure Minnesota schools will lose hundreds of more good educators this spring to less stressful jobs in the private sector.”

    That’s the case in Minnesota. Imagine what it’s like in SD. Actually the lack of jobs and poor pay everywhere instate might force more teachers to stay with it. Is that what you want in your schools, South Dakotans?

  10. Darrell Reifenrath 2019-02-02

    ALEC project?

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-02

    Darrell, the blogger who first found the Horowitz link was looking down that road but suggests this is just a culture-war project by Horowitz. It certainly fits the ALEC agenda of undermining public education to reduce checks on corporate power, but there’s no sign ALEC is funding this measure. It’s just meatheads like Weis and Finchem doing the bidding of national agitators instead of solving real problems.

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