Boo, Arizona! Judge Fails to Overturn Ethnic Studies Ban

It’s a bad, sad time for education in Arizona.

Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last Friday upheld all but one aspect of the law prohibiting Arizona school districts from offering ethnic studies courses. The ban specifically targeted the Mexican-American studies program at some Tucson public schools.

(The judge declined to issue a permanent injunction on a small portion of the law, and said the court has jurisdiction on any future proceedings, if warranted.)

The controversial ban went into effect on January 1, 2011. It prohibits public schools from offering courses that promote the overthrow of the United States government, advocate ethnic solidarity and foster resentment toward a race or class of people. In Tucson, students studied history and literature from a Mexican-American perspective.

Opponents said that ethnic studies classes divide students.

However, the law is obviously politically motivated: as many educators have pointed out, ethnic studies classes are open to all students.

This is just more of the same from the Arizona government, which has brought us Jan Brewer and her xenophobic immigration bill, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio with his brutal treatment of immigrants. Too bad a federal judge had to agree with their narrow-minded perspective.

The challenge to the new state law was initially launched in 2010. Eventually, teachers and students at the Tucson Unified School District brought a lawsuit against Arizona’s school superintendent, John Huppenthal, and other state officials.

From azcentral.c0m:

Authorities instrumental in the law’s passage said Monday that they feel vindicated in their efforts to ban what they deemed to be racially divisive courses in public schools.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who helped craft the law and personally argued the case in Tucson, called the decision “a victory for ensuring that public education is not held captive to radical, political elements and that students treat each other as individuals — not on the basis of the race they were born into.”

Actually, it’s quite the opposite of what Horne chooses to believe. Instead of alienating students of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, this curriculum actually connected all students, including those with Native American, Mexican-American, Asian-American and African-American heritages, to their cultural past and to the roles these cultures have played in American history.

A double bonus: district data showed that students who took the courses performed better on standardized tests.

But with Attorney General Horne, we have yet another white male Republican who refuses to admit that times and demographics are changing in the United States, especially in a border state like Arizona.

Just check the facts: the estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2011, was 52 million, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 16.7 percent of the nation’s total population.

In Arizona, however, Hispanics and Latinos made up 30.1 percent of the population. Is this almost one third of the state’s population not supposed to learn about its culture and heritage?

Sorry, Mr. Horne, but after years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census Bureau has made it official: white births are no longer a majority in the United States.

Teaching about only white historical figures, authors, playwrights and musicians does not reflect the cultural diversity that this generation sees in its schools; this is aside from the fact that teaching only about white figures presents a lie to students that only white people did anything of import throughout our nation’s history.

White students also need to know about the true history of their state and country, not just the white version.

Ethnic studies is a necessary part of understanding this country, which is probably why it’s under attack in Arizona.

Eventually, the state will be forced to change its attitude, but how long will it take?


Care2 Related Coverage

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Connie O.
Connie O4 years ago


Vicky P.
Vicky P4 years ago

It's always a sad day in Arizona, they always seem to pass some kind of racist, stupid, sexist law every few months or so

David King
David King4 years ago

That last post was for Ten Thousand K...

David King
David King4 years ago


Are you off your meds???

You might want to read your last comment and see if YOU can understand it, because it sounds as if it has gone through a blender...

Don't even try to explain to me what it was you were thinking, because my grand-children are visiting... AND at ages 7 years old, 5 years old and 4 years old they make much more sense than YOU ever have here...

I hope life gets much better for you!

Antonia S.
Antonia S4 years ago

People will always find the truth no matter how hard they try to hide it from them! I grew up in hillbilly hell, and I still learned the truth! Maybe not in the backwards a^& school system they have in that town, but there are always ways to find it! Arizona will suffer many repercussions for their ignorance and stupidity! It is only a matter of time. People do not realize that it will always catch up with them no mater what! History has proven that one time and time again!

Casey Loufek
Casey Loufek4 years ago

Sorry but you may as well be defending a class taught by the KKK. I remember when this law was first past and after looking at some of these "ethnic studies" classes content I can completely understand why. You wouldn't want the government funding classes teaching how the country is in debt because of minorities on welfare, so why are you defending classes that were teaching just as outrageous lies about white people?

The one part the judge threw out was in fact the one part holding back legitimate ethnic studies classes. Maybe you never actually looked at the content of the classes and jumped on the bandwagon because the word "ethnic studies" is involved. This isn't about whether the classes were open to people of all races, it's about the blatant lies and hate that were being taught with tax money in many of them

I'm an anarchist. I'm all for the overthrow of the US government, but don't you think it's asking a little much to expect government taxes to fund it? What precisely about these requirements "bans" ethnic studies? If a ban on spreading hate and lies prevents you from teaching what you consider "ethnic studies" than I don't think what you're describing has any business being taught in public school.

Marcel Elschot
Marcel E4 years ago


Carla van der Meer

All students should be offered a variety of ethnic studies programs. It is fascinating to learn about one;s own culture and those of others. It would certainly hep to foster understanding.

Nance N.
Nance N4 years ago

Well said Marilyn Busy F. I agree 100% with your view.

Cynthia Blais
cynthia l4 years ago

History is history and should be taught impartially. with out bias to any ethic group