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.
Creative Commons - Ken Lund
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