New Arizona Law Bans Ethnic Studies Courses

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill Tuesday that bans ethnic studies classes in the state’s public schools. The new law (see PDF) bans classes that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “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 the treatment of pupils as individuals.” Tom Horne, the Arizona State Superintendent of Schools, pushed the bill and has reportedly spent two years targeting the Tucson Unified School District’s ethnic studies programs, according to CNN. The school district offers African-American, Mexican-American and Native-American studies classes focusing on literature, history, and the influence of the ethnic group in the United States. According to the Associated Press, there are approximately 1,500 high school students enrolled in these classes in Tucson, where the school district is 56 percent Hispanic. Experts from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights said in a statement Monday that the law is “at odds with the State’s responsibility to respect the right of everyone to have access to his or her own cultural and linguistic heritage and to participate in cultural life.” They continued, “Everyone has the right to seek and develop cultural knowledge and to know and understand his or her own culture and that of others through education and information” and cited “a disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants” in the state. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13 to 1 yesterday to boycott future Arizona-based business contracts and government travel to the state in response to the controversial immigration bill Governor Brewer signed into law just a few weeks ago. The immigration law allows law enforcement officials in Arizona to request proof of legal immigration, residency, or citizenship of anyone they suspect might be an illegal immigrant. According to the Los Angeles Times, Councilman Ed Reyes said, “Los Angeles the second-largest city in this country, an immigrant city, an international city. It needs to have its voice heard…As an American, I cannot go to Arizona today without a passport. If I come across an officer who’s having a bad day and feels that the picture on my ID is not me, I can be deported, no questions asked. That is not American.” Currently, Los Angeles has contracts with Arizona-based companies that are worth about $56 million.


Arizona HB 2281; Los Angeles Times 5/12/10; CNN 5/12/10; Associated Press 5/12/10; UN Commission on Human Rights 5/11/10

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