This report is from the Arizona Star (Tucson): PHOENIX – State senators approved legislation aimed at the curbing the ethnic-studies program in Tucson Unified School District. HB 2281 would make it illegal for a school district to have any courses or classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity “instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” It also would ban classes that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.” Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, said the legislation is little more than a thinly disguised effort to quash a program TUSD officials have said was proven academically successful. According to TUSD officials, the program in the district’s Mexican-American studies department simply provides historical information, which conflicts with state School Superintendent Tom Horne’s assessment the program is promoting racial hatred and “ethnic chauvinism.” District officials insisted earlier this year nothing in the program would violate the legislation, if it were to become law. But Lopez said teachers in the program have told her the measure would affect how they can teach history. Beyond that, she said this level of legislative intervention into how subjects can be taught is academically a bad idea. * * * * Has Arizona gone completely nuts? Is there any reason to believe that schools have courses that promote the overthrow of the United States government? Advocate racial hatred and ethnic solidarity? As it happens, I met last night with a group of interns who work in Houston city government. One of the group was from Arizona. His analysis is that Arizona’s fair elections law, which calls for public financing, has been a disaster. Anyone who runs for office can receive public money. So you have a lot of ordinary citizens with no political experience jumping into races and winning them, and proceeding to enact their prejudices into law. The bill sponsor of the Arizona immigration law was just such a candidate. One of the leading critics of the Tucson ethnic studies program is the State Superintendent for Public Instruction, Tom Horne. According to Fox News, Horne called passage in the state House a victory for the principle that education should unite, not divide students of differing backgrounds. “Traditionally, the American public school system has brought together students from different backgrounds and taught them to be Americans and to treat each other as individuals, and not on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds,” Horne said. “This is consistent with the fundamental American value that we are all individuals, not exemplars of whatever ethnic groups we were born into. Ethnic studies programs teach the opposite, and are designed to promote ethnic chauvinism.” Horne began fighting in 2007 against the Tucson Unified School District’s program, which he said defied Martin Luther King’s call to judge a person by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Horne claimed the ethnic studies program encourages “ethnic chauvanism,” promotes Latinos to rise up and create a new territory out of the southwestern region of the United States and tries to intimidate conservative teachers in the school system. This guy makes the Texas State Board of Education look good.
Politics & Policy