[lg policy] Arizona Law Curbs Ethnic Studies Classes

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 13 21:26:32 UTC 2010

May 13, 2010, 11:20 am
Arizona Law Curbs Ethnic Studies Classes

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 Tuscon 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.”

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