The Arizona Republic reported that Republican legislators are focused on imposing new demands on the public schools, reflecting the rightwing cultural agenda. This is somewhat ironic since they previously used their power, when the Governor was Republican, to create a universal voucher program so that students can use public money to attend private schools that are entirely unregulated by the state.

Arizona lawmakers are seeking to reach deep into classroom operations with proposals to require the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, to designate which students can use which bathrooms and, once again, to limit how race and ethnicity are taught.

Those are in addition to proposals that would require gun safety training at schools and mandate that instructional materials and teacher lesson plans get posted online. Another bill would have the state Department of Education create a list of books banned from classroom use.

To some, these bills, among others, are a replay of recent legislative sessions, where the public school system became the turf for battles over hot-button cultural issues.

That ignores the changed political reality at the Capitol, with the arrival of a Democratic governor after more than a decade of unified GOP control, said Marisol Garcia, president of the Arizona Education Association.

If the GOP actually cares about these issues, why don’t they put the same requirements on voucher schools? It appears that if you want to escape the GOP mandates, the way to do it to open a private school, where you are free to teach about race and gender, free of testing, free of any accountability.