A judge in Arizona has decided to make a Mexican American history program taught in the Tucson Unified School District just that: history. According to Judge Lewis D Kowal, the program is in violation of state law.
The legislation in question went on the books a year ago and says that Arizona schools can’t offer studies designed for students of any particular ethnic group, a move that US Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) called at its passing a “dangerous precedent.”
This legislation against diversity might be focused on Tucson, Grijalva told the Huffington Post earlier this year, but it has significant ramifications across the country.
The ban specifically prohibits classes which are aimed at ethnic groups or promotes resentment toward a race or class of people. In June of this year, John Huppenthal, the state superintendent of public instruction, deemed the Tucson district to be in violation by offering a Mexican American studies program. Six months later, students and instructors are now being forced by state mandate to end the academic agenda, essentially outlawing the truth from being taught in public schools.
I made a decision based on the totality of the information and facts gathered during my investigation — a decision that I felt was best for all students in the Tucson Unified School District, Huppenthal says to the Los Angeles Times over his so-called victory with this week’s ruling. The judge's decision confirms that it was the right decision.
That decision will not only cause classroom teachers to drastically alter their curriculum but could come as a catalyst to keep other school districts coast-to-coast from careening towards the truth. The precedent being put forth in Arizona outlaws a program that preaches the historical facts pertaining to a whole culture, a program which apparently offends some lawmakers. With its passing, however, any item targeted by an influential enough group of opponents could be nixed next.
The Mexican American studies program, according to its faculty and supporters, offers Chicano perspectives on US history and culture. To Huppenthal, that point of view serves as a façade for perpetrating anti-American propaganda in the students.
Assistant Attorney General Kevin Ray spoke in support of the law’s opponents, telling the press that “The state does not believe that the teachers nor the prospective students have the constitutional right to be taught the current Mexican American studies program,” insisting that the classes could cause outrage and an uproar over the realities of US history.
For the program’s advocates, the classes make sense. We are descendants of those who founded this city and descendants of those who founded public education, activist Salomon Baldenegro, Sr. testified at the Tucson Unified School District board hearing earlier this year. It has been no secret that the establishment in Arizona has gone to great lengths to crush ethnic groups outside the majority from making any strides in the state; but while Arizona’s controversial SB 170 legislation justifies law enforcement agents to profile possible illegal immigrants on basis of looks, this act will end the practice of preaching any truth in the Tucson school district’s academic programs, essentially barring history books from the classroom.
If Arizona lawmakers can make telling the truth illegal, so can other states. First is the outlawing the history of Mexican Americans in that state, but will the slave trade be dismissed from classrooms where plantations previously littered the cities and counties? Residents in Arizona of Mexican origin account for 26.7 percent of the entire state population; by comparison, African American residents in the state of New York account for less than 17 percent of the state’s population. If a similar law was enacted in the Empire State, would America’s history books be stripped of a few hundred years of pages? Or would the internment of Japanese Americans be no longer taught in high school classes in California in fear that it would cause the nearly 5 million Asian Americans in California to engage in groupthink against the establishment?
The recent approval from Congress to submit the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 will allow the US government to operate similar internment camps for groups deemed detrimental to the nation’s security. Could a continuation of Arizona’s law elsewhere allow for future fallacies of America to go undocumented? If other states follow suit, absolutely. In the meantime, the effects of this ruling will impact Arizona residents only, but could cause a cultural collapse as citizens are scorned from learning of their own history. For residents of Arizona not of Mexican origin, the results are detrimental as well: Judge Kowal has found grounds to withhold 10 percent of the Tucson Unified School District’s state aid until it comes into compliance with the ruling, impacting the rest of academia outside of the class to the tune of around $15 million in funding. The ruling from Kowal comes as a recommendation to Superintendent Huppenthal, who will now have in his right to take action against the studies program if it does not come into compliance.
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