Governor Ducey Announces Plan To Strengthen 9/11 Education In K-12 Schools

News Release

September 10, 2021

Governor Working With State Board Of Education, Legislative Partners And Education Leaders

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today announced plans to work with educators and lawmakers to make the teaching of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks mandatory in Arizona’s schools.

“September 11, 2001 was a day that changed America,” said Governor Ducey. “It shaped a generation, forever altering how we view the world, how the world views us and how we interact with each other. But as indelible as the memory of that tragic day is for many of us, the passage of time has taken an inevitable toll. We are now at a point where Arizonans of a certain age have no direct recollection of the pain and anger we felt two decades ago when terrorists attacked our country, or the resolve and courage demonstrated in the days that followed. For this reason, my office will work with educators and lawmakers to introduce, pass and sign legislation that guarantees the next generation of Arizonans never forgets what happened on September 11, 2001.”

Only 14 states require students to receive instruction on the events of September 11. Governor Ducey’s office is partnering with the Arizona State Board of Education, Representative Steve Kaiser, educators and other members of the Arizona Legislature to join these states.

“It’s critical that we teach Arizona students about the attacks on our nation 20 years ago,” said State Board of Education President Lucas Narducci. “This requirement will ensure that our youth are informed on one of the most tragic days in our nation's history, and I’m grateful to Governor Ducey for his leadership on this.”

“September 11, 2001 was a tragic day that Americans will never forget, and it’s our duty to make sure future generations always remember what happened,” said State Board of Education Member Christine Burton. “We’re working hard to make sure that happens.”

People from all across the nation came together to provide assistance in recovery efforts following the terrorist attacks. Without hesitation, many Arizona firefighters in Arizona traveled to Ground Zero to assist with recovery efforts. One of those heroes is Derrick Johnson of Ahwatukee.

“Americans from all walks of life stepped up to help one another in response to September 11,” said Johnson. “Firefighters ran into the towers, people lined up to donate blood, Americans flocked to Ground Zero to assist with recovery efforts, and so much more. It’s important that kids these days learn about all of this, and they must learn about the horrible attacks against our great nation. My thanks goes to Governor Ducey for his plans to present legislation that will strengthen September 11 education.” 

Currently, Arizona’s academic standards include broad references to September 11 and terrorism, but there is not a specific requirement in place. The Governor plans to work collaboratively with the State Board of Education and key stakeholders to present legislation during the next legislative session that will guarantee Arizona K-12 students, who were not alive on the day of the attacks, will receive instruction on what occurred that day and the ripple effects it has had on the American way of life.

Representative Kaiser, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, intends to sponsor the legislation. 

“Arizona’s children need to know our nation’s history — even the events that are hard to talk about,” said Representative Kaiser. “I look forward to working with Governor Ducey, educators, first responders, board members, and fellow legislators to get legislation focused on September 11 education passed next session.”

“The next generation needs to know our nation’s history,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Paul Boyer. “I’m looking forward to working with Governor Ducey and my fellow legislators to make sure Arizona children will never forget the events of September 11.”

“Current K-12 students were not alive to witness that devastating day of September 11, 2001,” said House of Representative Education Committee Chairman Michelle Udall. “It’s critical that Arizona’s students learn about events in history that have shaped our nation, including the terrorist attacks 20 years ago. I look forward to working on this next session.”

Jessica Worthington, Principal of Desert Star school in Avondale Elementary School District, weighed in on the importance of teaching Arizona students about the September 11 attacks. 

“All Arizona students deserve to learn about important topics of American history, like September 11,” said Worthington. “Most of us vividly remember that day and it’s our duty to educate the younger generation, many of which weren’t even born yet when the attacks happened. We take time every year to ensure our school teaches students about the horrific terrorist attacks that stole so many lives and left our nation shocked, and I hope we continue to educate the upcoming generation about this tragic event our nation faced.”

BACKGROUND
On the morning of September 11, 2001 four commercial airplanes were hijacked by al-qaeda terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The tragic terrorist attacks against the United States set in motion the war on terror, including the 20-year war in Afghanistan. 

Governor Ducey this week met with firefighters, including Derrick Johnson of Ahwatukee, who responded to the September 11 attacks and have put their lives on the line to protect others. During the meeting, the first responders told their stories and emphasized the importance of teaching the next generations about the attacks. 

Governor Ducey has been at the forefront of teaching important pieces of history in Arizona classrooms. In July, he signed legislation that will strengthen education on the Holocaust and other genocides in K-12 schools. 

Governor Ducey signed legislation last year marking September 25 as Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Celebration Day, a day in which a majority of in-person and online classroom instruction is devoted entirely to civics. 

Additionally, the Governor in 2015 signed the American Civics Act to ensure all Arizona students understand American civics, requiring the passage of a civics test before graduating high school. It was the first bill he signed as Governor, making Arizona the first state in the nation to enact such a law.

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