In Arizona, a number of Republican state senators are championing legislation which would severely crack down on cursing in the classroom. However, this bill is not targeting students, it’s directed toward teachers.
The guidelines for what words are and aren’t allowed in front of the blackboard would be modeled after what is allowed during prime-time television. The “f-word” would be completely off-limits for any public school instructor, and that includes those at the college level. Lesser curses, such as “hell,” would be permitted.
A three-strike policy would be put in place, with the first offense resulting in a week suspension, the second offense a two-week suspension, and the third offense would lead to termination. The law doesn’t just affect what teachers actually say, but also any materials shown to students, or anything tangentially related to the teacher. This ranges from a movie played in class to a quote from a TV show posted on a teacher’s personal Facebook.
Analysts have raised several different issues with the bill. While no one seems to see this as restricting First Amendment rights, it does represent a noticeably shift of power from local schools to the state government level. Furthermore, many feel this law, if implemented, would become effectively obsolete. For instance, the Supreme Court is currently determining whether or not the FCC guidelines for obscenity are themselves unconstitutional. Finally, public universities and colleges in Arizona take issue with the fact that certain courses, particular film and literature studies, cover content that would be considered profane.
What is the overall point of this legislation? Is cursing a rampant problem in Arizona schools? Whose place is it to police teacher language and behavior? Should it rest with the local school administration, or by legislators at the state level? If you are a educator, how would this affect or limit your curriculum and teaching style?