The controversial ban on ethnic studies classes in Arizona public schools goes into effect today, after much outcry from critics who claim that the law openly discriminates against minorities. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the law bans classes that “promote the overthrow of the United States government and resentment toward a race or class of people.” It also prohibits courses designed “primarily for students of a particular ethnic group and those that advocate ethnic solidarity rather than treat students as individuals.”
The concern, according to the law’s proponents, is that ethnic studies classes divide students; the ban was proposed in response to a Mexican-American history program in Tucson. The law is fairly obviously politically motivated, however, since as educators have pointed out, the classes are open to all.
The district says that it will retain the program, despite risking losing state funding. The newly hired superintendent pointed out that the program has clear benefits: 70 to 75 percent of the students that go through the program go on to college, compared with 20 to 25 percent of a similar group.
The current climate in Arizona, as other Care2 writers have eloquently pointed out over the past year, is unspeakably hostile to immigrants and minorities, and it seems clear that this is a similar attack. Educators are concerned that these restrictions could resurface in other states (as in Virginia, which enabled police to ask about immigration status on routine stops).
The district is right to stand up to this horrible new ban – it’s not without reason that some critics have started referring to Arizona as the “new South.”
Photo from Flickr.