Arizona's Racist Ethnic Studies Ban Starts Tomorrow

On Monday, children in Arizona will return to school after the winter break. But they'll be lacking one thing in their curriculum that existed before they left for the holidays: ethnic studies.

Effective January 1, 2010, the instruction of ethnic studies in public schools grades K-12 is illegal thanks to HB 2281, another racist bill signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. Think of it as a companion piece to SB 1070. Far from targeting just immigrants, however, this bill will undermine the instruction of history for all students, effectively whitewashing the curriculum and writing Mexican Americans, Native Americans and other non-Anglo ethnic groups out of the curriculum. The language of the bill bans any classes that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

Or, as Newshour puts it, “history, anthropology and literature courses designed to teach the stories, histories, struggles and triumphs of people of color through their own unique perspectives.”

The bill was pushed through by Arizona's secretary of education, Tom Horne, who has the sole power to decide which schools are violating the new law -- and which schools should lose state funding. He's coming for Tuscon-area Mexican American studies programs in particular, in part because of a long vendetta he's had against them, detailed here in his 2007 open letter. If Tuscon public schools continue to teach ethnic studies, they could lose $36 million from their budget. 

A group called Save Ethnic Studies, along with civil rights attorney Richard Martinez and 11 Tuscon teachers plan to challenge the bill in court, hoping to save a program that has increased grade point averages and raised test scores. Read more at the Arizona Daily Star.


AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at December 31, 2010, 6:23am

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