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Memo to Arizona Schools: VIdeotape Ethnic Studies Classes Or Lose Funding

Memo to Arizona Schools: VIdeotape Ethnic Studies Classes Or Lose Funding

Arizona is at it again. Last May, Governor Jan Brewer signed into law H.B. 2281, a bill that will essentially end all ethnic studies classes in the state.

Now Tom Horne, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, has sent a letter to John Carroll, the superintendent of Tucson Unified School District, announcing that he will withhold 10 percent of the district’s funds as soon as the new law goes into effect, on December 31. Is this legal?

What H.B. 2281 says

As I discussed here in May
, the bill bans classes that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating pupils as individuals.” Also prohibited: all those classes that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.” Sounds reasonable, yes?

Ethnic Studies Courses Are Open To All

Tucson school officials weren’t too worried, because their courses are open to all students. But now they are being told that they must videotape every ethnic studies class in order to “determine the nature of these classes,” as Horne puts it in his letter. He goes on “Please consider this a formal request to video tape the Ethnic Studies courses, and in particular, the Mexican-American/Raza Studies course, in their entirety, in the coming semester.”

Videotape Every Class?

As if teachers don’t have enough to do already, and now they have to videotape their classes? But apparently they must be careful to tape only the teacher, not the students. And why “In particular the Mexican-American Studies course?” The answer to that is of course that Horne is running for Attorney General, and his assistant Margaret Dugan is running for State Superintendent. Meanwhile, after numerous requests to visit the classrooms in person, to see for himself what is going on, Horne has yet to make an appearance.

Horne is an immigrant from Canada, but he is clearly pandering to the current mood in Arizona by attacking anything he can that is associated with Latinos: teachers with accents, bilingual education, ethnic studies classes. And what can Tucson’s students be making of this? It seems to me that the bill itself could be construed as doing what it is supposedly designed to prevent: “promote resentment toward a race of class of people.”

Kudos to the Tucson Unified School District for standing up to the blatant bullying.

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133 comments

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2:33PM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Thank you.

2:33PM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Thank you.

3:21PM PDT on Sep 20, 2010

Tom Horne is a fascist.

9:44AM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

Foster their own culture? Does that include the overthrow of the United States and the other nive edibles on the cultural plate of La Raza and other seditious entitities?

7:58AM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

I have given up saying that nothing can surprise me. This "law" has surprised me. It seems more than a little crazy to me. I wonder whether these politicians have guessed the will of the people aright and whether the whole population in Arizona is a bit paranoid and crazy. Why shouldn't Latinos have and opportunity to foster their own culture? In the end it will only enrich the culture of America.

11:00PM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

This is disgusting!

10:26AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

Alexis, I don't believe I mentioned anything at all along the lines of what you are now discussing - only the fact that istorically we are all immigrants (which is in and of itself 'history', which you say 'matters').

You seem to read a great deal into something which simply isn't there and make conclusions based on zero evidence.

7:46AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

Lindsey, I think 40,000 years matters. I also think legal documents matter, particularly contractual ones (those entered into by both parties, rather than imposed by one side). I take it you are on the side of those who have no problem using illness to kill off the last remaining members of one of the few uncontacted Amazonian tribe (currently about 27 people) in order to clearcut their forest and extract minerals from their ground. Like it or not, Indigenous peoples do exist and they have different ways of living in the world that we would do well to learn from if we are not going to destroy this planet in an environmental catastrophe. Crops are burning in Russia right now; the government has already banned food exports and those who depend on importing Russian grain are, in some cases, facing starvation. All because we can't survive without oil. Maybe we need to learn something from those who are good at surviving with very little.

History matters, Lindsey. You may wish to pretend it doesn't, but it has shaped you and your world.

7:41AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

Marilyn D asks " why it's only racist if white people do it to other skin shades...and it's incomprehensible that anyone with a darker shade of skin could be racist against white people...?" Bigotry can go in any direction (and often does), but racism works in concert with power. African Americans can be bigoted towards white Americans, but they don't have the power to make that matter in a larger social sense. White Americans, on the other hand (like white people most places) have both the political and economic clout to ensure that virtually all policies favour them. That this is not always the case is a credit to those who have fought against racist policies and practices -- and some of those engaged in anti-racist action are indeed white. Nevertheless, the power in the world exists largely in the hands of a small coterie of white people, some of them politicians, but many of them the extremely wealthy CEOs of massive corporations. Neal M is right that NAFTA has not worked to the benefit of Mexicans. If you want to know why Mexicans can no longer make a living in their own country, watch some of the films about -- Senorita Extraviada comes to mind. What is the point in "free trade" if it does not include free movement of people? Why is it that the USA, in its desire to compete with the European Union, was not prepared to go the EU route and legalize the movement of both goods and people? These are questions worth contemplating.

7:23AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

You're right, Alexis - 'indigenous' people don't exist anywhere. The U.N. can call them anything they like - but we're all immigrants. And it is irritating in the extreme to hear those who try to ignore that fact.

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