New Arizona School Board Member Says the District Should Not Hire Christian Teachers

Tamillia Valenzuela says hiring Christian teachers would make her feel 'Not ... safe'

By Nancy Flory Published on March 3, 2023

Newly minted Arizona school board member Tamillia Valenzuela said in a meeting late last month that her school district should not hire teachers with Christian values. Valenzuela, who wore cat ears to the meeting, said that the Washington Elementary School District needed to consider its own values and dissolve the contract the school district had with Arizona Christian University, which had enabled their student teachers to gain experience in the district’s schools. 

The board chose to dissolve the partnership of five years with Arizona Christian University on February 23, according to Fox News.

During the meeting, Valenzuela — who took the position in late November — told other board members that she was “disheartened” to discover the contract was in place for five years. 

While I full-heartedly believe in the religious freedom and people being able to practice whatever faith that they have, I had some concerns regarding looking at this particular institution. And I think it’s a really good time for us to take a moment and really pause about where our values lie.

Valenzuela, who describes herself as “a bilingual, disabled, neurodivergent Queer Black Latina,” admitted that there was a teacher shortage, but that they should not be hiring Christian teachers. “My concerns, [is] when I go to Arizona Christian University’s website, [they are] ‘committed to Jesus Christ, accomplishing his will and advancements on earth as in Heaven.’” She continued:

Part of their values is … [to] ‘transform the culture with truth by promoting the Biblically-informed values that are foundational to Western civilization, including the centrality of family, traditional sexual morality, and lifelong marriage between one man and one woman. I want to know how bringing [teachers] from an institution that is ingrained in their values so directly brings impact to three of your board members who are a part of the LGBT community.

Valenzuela said that having the contract with Arizona Christian University would make her feel unsafe. “At some point, we need [to] get real with ourselves and take a look at who we’re making legal contracts with and the message that is sending to our community. Because that makes me feel like I could not be safe in this school district.”

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She wasn’t the only one at the meeting who complained about the Christian university. School board member Kyle Clayton complained that the university taught “with a biblical lens.” “I, too, echo what Ms. Valenzuela said when I … looked into not only their core values, but the statement of faith … [which they] ask their students to sign and live by. Proselytizing is embedded into how they teach. And I just don’t believe that that belongs in schools.”


Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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