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GOP Attacks on Diversity Education, State By State

GOP Attacks on Diversity Education, State By State

With Republican majorities in 20 state legislatures, Tea Party activists and the GOP have wasted no time narrowing the curriculum and starting an assault on diversity education. State by state, the attacks add up to a steady undermining of the freedoms and rights earned since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Here are some examples of what’s going on:

Tennessee Tea Party activists presented a list of their demands to their state representatives as state legislatures around the nation geared up for a new session.

TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition to defend public schools from the radical right Tea Party agenda.

One such demand involves teaching the “truth” about the state’s history, with “truth” defined as:

“No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.” [emphasis in the original--eds.]

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”

In essence, the point is to cast doubt on the contributions of Native and African American people (one would have to prove it “actually occurred” first) and teach a highly selective history of what the Founding Fathers did and said. For example, the fact that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, which conflicts with “All men are created equal,” the words he helped pen, would probably be struck from Tennessee classrooms.

Tea Party partisans want to cherry pick the parts of history they agree with and minimize the rest. This is intellectually dishonest and diminishes the value and contribution of nonwhites to America. It is also untrue to the facts of how our history unfolded and disrespectful to the methods embraced by generations of scholars in establishing what we know.


The ban on ethnic studies in Arizona has pitted teachers who value multicultural education and academic freedom against a school board that won’t defend their opposition to the ban.

Arizona is 31% Mexican American and Native American. Eleven teachers are currently willing to go to court to teach accurate history and for the academic freedom to teach Mexican American history as it is widely accepted.

Sign the petition for academic freedom and honesty: save ethnic studies in Arizona.

North Carolina

Recently, right-wing activists backed by Tea Party-astroturfers the Koch brothers successfully dissolved a successful integration program in North Carolina:

The integration plan, which created thriving schools in poor African-American parts of the school district along with achieving diversity in schools located in wealthy white enclaves, was a model for the nation. However, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Tea Party group founded and funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, worked with local right-wing financier (and AFP board member) Art Pope to fundamentally change Wake County’s school board…

North Carolina is 22% African American.


Within days of the beginning of Minnesota’s legislative session, the GOP has introduced an English-language only law that puts non-native speakers on the defensive and would remove multilingual documentation of government regulations, applications, voting instructions, benefits applications, and other official business.

Among the first bills introduced in the Minnesota House this session is one aimed at establishing English as the official language of the state. Republican Reps. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, David Hancock of Bemidji, Sondra Erickson of Princeton, and Roger Crawford of Mora introduced the bill on Monday.

HF 64 would make English the official language of Minnesota: “No law, ordinance, order, program, or policy of this state or any of its political subdivisions, shall require the use of any language other than English for any documents, regulations, orders, transactions, proceedings, meetings, programs, or publications, except as provided in subdivision 3.”

English is already the de facto official language of the United States. Limiting all official documentation to English would have the effect of denying non-native speaking citizens, permanent residents, and others with legal documentation full and equal access to important government services. Department of Motor Vehicle paperwork, for example, would all be in English, as would voter registration information. Attempts to institute English-only laws have historically been intended to limit access and stigmatize people whose first language is not English, despite their legal right to use services and participate in democracy.

The Tea Party agenda is to re-write history from a conservative point of view to remove the contributions of nonwhites in the hopes of discounting their perspectives, contributions, and growing political power. Right-wing activists hope to stall the demographic shift when nonwhites make up a numerical majority, and instead lock up power and influence in their waning numbers. Their vision of America is a zero-sum game, as if gains must mean someone else’s loss.

Instead, we must work to ensure that our nation remains the land of expanding opportunity, capable of encompassing everyone who works hard and contributes to this country. That begins with making a place for cultural, religious, sexual, and language minorities in our histories and in public life.

Sign the petition to defend public schools from the radical right Tea Party agenda.

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8:10PM PST on Feb 23, 2011

MEAN-SPIRITED is the definition of the tea party and repubs. Frankly, I can't imagine going through life with hate in my heart as my driving force, as they do. Disgusting. Keep the faith and keep up the fight against hate.

1:02PM PST on Feb 16, 2011

The regressive Republican Party of No is mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

NEVER vote for Republicans.

9:13AM PST on Jan 28, 2011

Gee are we surprised at the anti education bent in this country. We are so dumbed down we haven't figured out that GOP means WTF, just ask Sarah by golly

5:48PM PST on Jan 18, 2011

"A bunch of irresponsible folks that want to change history,"

I confess to a limited education, but I was always led to believe that 'history' meant it had already occurred. I can't quite grasp the problem some folks have with that.

2:08PM PST on Jan 18, 2011

and btw I am white but I have great respect for truth!

2:02PM PST on Jan 18, 2011

These are not real American people they are extremists. Sorry to say. I came to this country to escape extremism, breaking-up of human rights, communism in its most atrocious form, and what do I see ? A bunch of irresponsible folks that want to change history, and submit us all to their selfish interests. It's a shame, and I am scared!

11:02AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

"...the opposition would re-write history, denigrate our founders, blame & ridicule America for its history, discount the Christian ideals/perspectives of the founders & early Americans, & otherwise beat-up America for it's history."
" your white guilt really that paramount within your souls?"

I accept that you don't get it! Acknowledging the truth might, in some instances, mean rewriting 'white' history, but it doesn't rewrite real history. If it happened, it is history. I'm not sure what your point is by ignoring that simply truth. As for guilt, I feel zero guilt for things people (my ancestors) did that I had no control over. That is a favorite saying of conservatives because it actually tries to make one feel guilty for acknowledging the truth. It is a truly stupid comment.

9:28AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

Correct me if I am wrong, but the author of this posting is not a Tea Partier. The writer claims that “The Tea Party agenda is to re-write history from a conservative point of view to remove the contributions of NON-WHITES in the hopes of discounting their perspectives, contributions, and growing political power.”

And I, a history-buff and active Tea Partier since its inception, say that this statement is not only WRONG but just another attempt to denigrate & twist white history in America! First of all, not all Conservatives are white. And we do NOT want to re-write history from a "Conservative" viewpoint. It is the other way around; the opposition would re-write history, denigrate our founders, blame & ridicule America for its history, discount the Christian ideals/perspectives of the founders & early Americans, & otherwise beat-up America for it's history.

STOP with the race-baiting & quit pulling the race card. It is unattractive but only serves to make the fight in us stronger. You say what race-baiting? C’mon, fess up. Further in this article, the writer says “right-wing activists hope to stall the demographic shift when NON-WHITES make up a numerical majority.” There it is again! The white people are the bad guys in your perverted attempts to denigrate. Don’t you white Democrats get sick of this or is your white guilt really that paramount within your souls?

1:09AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

Hi Larry,

There was no sarcasm involved. I originally thought I had the text of the bill, but it turned out the one I was reading was probably old, not what is under discussion. I erred when editing my comment.

I couldn't find anything from Tennessee. I don't even know if the bill has been written yet.

I found Arizona Bill 2281, but unless this article is very old news and refers to a law that is already in force, and only forbids schools from offering ethnic studies to specific students without allowing all students to take them, this is not the right bill.

There is no text for North Carolina because it is a school-board regulation, not a law being changed.
Here is the source's source with arguments from both sides.

This Minnesota law is from 2009.
The one in question refers only to driving tests and licenses, in accordance with the already-standing law from 2009.

9:01PM PST on Jan 17, 2011

I am not clear why there should be a special ethnic studies program. The largest ethnic minority in the US is German, and I have never heard of a German studies program, or an English or Scottish one. Concerning language, English , no question. Immigrants who don’t speak English and need instructions to find their way to a voting booth, are not able to acquaint themselves with election issues except through highly biased material in their own language, are not qualified to vote. I have lived in several countries and learned appropriate basic language skills as a matter of course. The only people I would excuse from this are First Natiions. Ethnic studies to reinforce reconquista views and justify importing Mexico are not a good idea.

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