Arizona Capitol

Arizona Capitol building in Phoenix. 

(The Center Square) – Two Arizona Republicans whose families fled communist countries want schools in the state to teach about the evils of the political philosophy.

State Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott, announced Tuesday his plan to file legislation he said would strengthen civics instruction and civics literacy education for Arizona’s K-12 students.

Nguyen’s family fled communist Vietnam. 

“This is very personal to me, as someone who has survived a communist war,” Nguyen said. “I have lost very close family members to the evil ideology of communism. I know what it feels to lose a nation to communism and that’s why I do not want my fellow Arizonans to ever go through what I have. 

“It is up to us to ensure that future generations have an honest understanding of what communism truly is and the horrors it has produced for mankind. Otherwise, it is likely to be repeated. The victims and survivors of communism deserve to have their voice heard.”

House Majority Leader Ben Toma’s family fled communist-run Romania. Toma, a Peoria Republican, is co-sponsoring the legislation with Nguyen. 

“I believe in America and its cornerstone principles of liberty, freedom, and democracy,” he said. “I also believe that we have a solemn obligation to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders.”

Toma said the legislation strengthens a student’s foundation in civic literacy and understanding of what makes America exceptional, and how it stands in stark contrast to communism and totalitarianism.

Nguyen’s bill would require the state academic standards in social studies to be retooled to include discussion of “political ideologies that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States.” 

Similar legislation was debated as the previous legislative session came to a close in June but failed to make it to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk. 

Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, said during previous debate white nationalism is more dangerous of an ideology than communism. Nguyen had a candid response

“White nationalism didn’t drown 250,000 Vietnamese in the South China Sea,” he said.

Regional Editor

Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, and Nevada. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.