Ariz. lawmaker would punish teachers who cuss in classroom

PHOENIX -- A teacher's role may be to expand a student's vocabulary, but one Arizona lawmaker wants to make sure that doesn't include four-letter words.

A state legislator has introduced a bill that would punish public school teachers if they use words that violate the obscenity and profanity guidelines set forth by the Federal Communications Commission.

State Sen. Lori Klein introduced the measure because a parent in her district complained about a high school teacher using foul language.

The words were "totally inappropriate," and teachers that don't keep their language clean aren't setting a good example for students, she said.

"You're there to be educated," Klein said. "You're not there to talk smack."

Critics say the bill is unnecessary and any discipline needed should be handled by schools and districts, not the Legislature.

Klein, a Republican from Anthem, made national headlines last fall when she pointed her gun at a reporter while demonstrating the weapon's laser sight during an interview.

Klein's proposal may be constitutional, but "not necessarily wise," said James Weinstein, a Constitutional Law professor at Arizona State University

Weinstein said the FCC has made exceptions for offensive language based on context, and that could make things complicated.

"FCC standards aren't exactly black and white," said Anjali Abraham, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union.

A spokeswoman for the National Conference of State Legislators said the organization is not aware of any other state with a law similar to the Arizona proposal.