Arizona Law Curbs Ethnic Studies Classes
by ROBERT MACKEY
New York Times
Just weeks after adopting a controversial immigration law denounced as racist by its opponents, Arizona has adopted a new measure restricting what can be taught in ethnic studies classes in the state’s public schools.
The new law, which suggests that students are “taught to resent or hate other races” in such courses, was promoted by opponents of a Tucson school district program devoted to the study of Mexican-American history and culture.
When the measure was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer on Tuesday, the Arizona Daily Star explained:
State schools chief Tom Horne, a Republican running for attorney general, says the district’s ethnic studies program promotes “ethnic chauvinism” and racial resentment toward whites.
One provision of House Bill 2281, passed last month by the state Legislature, says that Arizona’s government:
Prohibits a school district or charter school from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that:
•Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
•Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
•Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
•Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.
Judy Burns, the president of the Tucson district’s governing board, told the Los Angeles Times the measure was misguided because, “We don’t teach all those ugly things they think we’re teaching.”
Mr. Horne, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, told reporters on Wednesday that he wanted to learn more about the Tucson Unified School District’s courses in African-American studies, Native American studies and Asian studies. But, the Arizona Daily Star reported, “He said he felt he knew enough about Mexican-American studies and intends to go after” the district when the new law comes into force in December.
Mr. Horne also showed reporters a photograph of what he said was “a protest against my bill by students and teachers at Tucson High School and, as you can see, they are dressed up as revolutionaries.”
The same day Mr. Horne told NPR:
One of the functions of the public schools is to take kids of different backgrounds and teach them to treat each other as individuals. And this ethnic studies program does the opposite. It divides kids up by race.
In Mr. Horne’s run for state attorney general he has made his fight against Mexican-American studies a focus. The main page of his campaign Web site is now almost entirely devoted to trumpeting his efforts “to ban ethnic studies.”
According to The Arizona Daily Star, Mr. Horne’s battle against the Tucson district’s Mexican-American studies program “goes back to 2007, when activist Dolores Huerta spoke at Tucson High and told students that Republicans hate Latinos.” When Mr. Horne sought to counter this message by bringing Margaret Garcia Dugan, a Latina Republican who is his deputy, to speak at the school, “students stood up, turned their backs to her and put their fists in the air.”
Mr. Horne and Ms. Garcia Dugan told the Daily Star on Wednesday “that they had never seen such disrespect from students to a speaker, and they firmly believed that the students didn’t learn to be rude at home, but in the classroom.”
HB 2281 Is a Lesson for African Americans in Arizona - We Need to STAY Informed about the Legislative Process!