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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    TUSD’s vote to end ethnic studies disappoints

    The state of Arizona has a chokehold on public schools and the way ethnic diversity courses are being taught. This is evident in Tuesday night 4-1 vote by the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board to end the district’s ethnic studies program.

    At the end of 2010, the Arizona Legislature passed a law that restricted the information being taught in K-12 Mexican-American studies courses because the courses were being taught with a “harmful, dispiriting message.”

    In June 2011, the Arizona Department of Education declared that the Tucson Unified School District was in violation of that law. However, the TUSD disagreed and the issue was taken to an administrative judge who sided with the Department of Education. Since then, the district has refused to change its courses, so the state will withhold 10 percent of the school district’s $149 million budget. Arizona will continue to curb the budget if the TUSD doesn’t refine the courses.

    One of the original proponents of the bill is Tom Horne, the former Arizona superintendent of public instruction and current state attorney general. He explained the reasoning for the need to correct the courses in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “They divide the students up according to their racial group and teach them separately.” He went on to say the courses teach about oppression when they should teach about contingency and achievement, because this is America.

    Opponents believe the law is an attack on Mexican-Americans and is in violation of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause.

    The fact that the TUSD and Tucson community has come together to fight is admirable. This new push to restrict our ethnic studies is egregious and a concealed form of racism that Arizona has legalized. The superintendent and state are overstepping the boundaries of their powers.

    Arizona’s argument for limiting the classes has some major fallacies. Officials believe the courses racially isolate the students and only allow them to learn about their own culture and history, and that they teach about oppression.

    It may be true that a majority of students who take Mexican-American courses are of Latino descent, but that isn’t the courses’ fault. It’s society’s fault. We don’t push our students to learn more about other cultures. A white man who only takes standard American history courses learns far less than one who broadens his horizons by taking classes about cultures other than his own, like Mexican-American studies.

    The other problem is the state believes that the courses only teach about the bad things that have happened to Mexican-Americans and other minorities. Yes, minorities have accomplished many great things, but in order for us to fully understand their successes, we must also learn about their struggles. We can’t hide or pretend that the truth doesn’t exist, just as when we learn about George Washington, one of the greatest Americans of all time, we must also learn that he owned slaves. Knowing the whole picture is the only way we can come to a clear understanding of the past, present and future.

    This law is dangerous. Not only does it promote racism but it also brings up comparisons to Jim Crow laws. If we take away Mexican-American studies we are only promoting the study of American history from a white male prospective. So what courses are next to be eradicated, African American studies? Gender studies?

    — Luke Davis is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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