Rally Next Week to Support Ethnic Studies in AZ

“People that insist that taxpayer money should not be used for ethnic studies forget that we are taxpayers, too.”Pricila Rodriguez former Raza Studies student

As reported last summer, the Arizona State Legislature continues mulling over a bill that would effectively ban Ethnic Studies in several schools and make it possible to get rid of Ethnic and other Identity Studies programs and student groups in the state as a whole. Supporters of the bill were specifically targeting MeCha, ES, and a specific high school based Chican@ Studies program, Raza Studies, that many high school students in TUCSD have credited for why they staid in school and went on to college. One of the staunches supporters of the change, Rep John Kavanagh made explicit the link between ending diversity curriculum, anti-immigration, and assimilationist politics when he told people who didn’t like it to “go back to that [other] culture” while defending the bill.

Recently, the newest incarnation of the Bill passed its first hurdle and was on its way to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for another critical vote before becoming law. The Bill gives the state permission to cut 10% of state funding every month from Tuscan School District (TUCSD) budget for non-compliance. Compliance on the other hand, would mean getting rid of no less than 22 courses from the curriculum including history, literature, social sciences, Government, and others that focus on Latin@ culture or multicultural curriculum. The one exemption is Native American Studies courses b/c they are protected by Federal Law.

Failure to eradicate these 22 courses from the existing curriculum would mean already cash strapped schools would be facing cutting teachers, admins, or other needed programs, in order to hold on to the Ethnic Studies curriculum in defiance of state sponsored assimilationism. If the law passes and they choose to comply, not only will the state be losing a program credit by many of its graduates with furthering their education and educational goals but it would also open the door to target other school districts and possibly state funded colleges as well.

Currently, the Bill is strongly supported by Tuscon Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, who admits to trying to dismantle high school level ES for two years prior to the current legislative battle. He referred to ES as both

cultural chauvanism,” (AZ Star)

and

harmful and dysfunctional” (AZ Republic)

making no link between the existence of ES and the erasure of Latin@ culture from the N. American experience in traditional curriculum. Nor did his equation of ES with chauvanism make room for the way in which the anti-ES bill was written to curtail curriculum that, as the Bill states, “denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization” as if Americans of color are outside of such value systems and civilization. In fact, Horne echoed the same racial distinctions when he said:

The job of the public schools is to develop the student’s identity as Americans (ibid)

implying that Americans and Latin@s are mutually exclusive categories.

Supporters of TUCSD Ethnic Studies curriculum are hilding a two-day march from Tucsan to the State Capital in Phoenix on June 28 and 29.

For more information, contact:

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, assistant professor at the U. Arizona, at: XColumn@gmail.com.

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