Arizona teacher punishment bill revived

PHOENIX (FOX 10/AP) - The Arizona Senate is giving new life to a bill targeting teachers who try to influence students' political or religious views despite concerns by a legislative lawyer that it's unconstitutional.

The Rules Committee advanced the bill without notice late Tuesday after sitting on it for nearly two months.

The measure would fine teachers up to $5,000. Republican Senate President Karen Fann says she doesn't like the idea of fining teachers, so Republican Rep. Kelly Townsend has agreed to change her bill so school districts are punished instead.

Democrats, teachers and others have opposed a measure they see as retaliation for last year's "Red for Ed" movement in which thousands of teachers walked out of their classrooms to demand better pay.

Townsend says she's trying to ensure that teachers don't indoctrinate or proselytize. On Wednesday night, State Rep. Townsend tried to mend fences with a few dozen #RedforED supporters at the State Capitol, but no teachers would talk with her.

"It's a distraction from the important conversations that we really need to have about the budget," said Christine Marsh.

"It a diversionary tactic. They're creating rules that we don't need that are already in place," said Joe Thomas. "I think Representative Townsend is wanting to talk about anything but education funding. I think if she spent more time in her schools in her own district, like Apache Junction, she'd see there's wonderful stuff going on."

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.