(Arizona continues its slide into racist paranoia... )
Arizona legislature bans ethnic-studies programs
by Liz Goodwin
Just a week after signing the country's toughest immigration bill into law, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer now must decide whether to endorse another bill passed by her state legislature — one that outlaws ethnic-studies programs in public schools.
The bill forbids Arizona schools from using any curriculum that promotes "the overthrow of the United States government" or "resentment toward a race or class of people." It also disallows any curriculum that's "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group" or that seeks to "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."
Arizona's superintendent for public instruction, Tom Horne, has said he's backing the measure because ethnic-studies programs encourage "ethnic chauvinism"; he's also suggested that such programs could breed secessionist sentiment among Hispanic students.
Republican state Sen. Jack Harper also voted for the bill, saying that certain Hispanic-themed ethnic-studies programs are "trying to say that somebody who came to this country illegally is somehow oppressed. That's crazy stuff."
But the legislation's opponents say that, if the bill is signed into law, the state, not the targeted programs, would be promoting a politicized curriculum. Democratic state Sen. Linda Lopez says the bill would target a Mexican-American studies program used in her home district of Tucson. She offered an amendment — which the legislature approved — mandating that Arizona schools adopt curricula that include discussions of incidents of genocide such as the Holocaust, so that such material would not be considered as promoting "ethnic resentment."
In another controversial shift in state education policy, the Wall Street Journal has reported that the Arizona Department of Education has begun telling principals to remove teachers who speak English with an accent from classes with students who are still learning English. Some school officials are complaining that the move will remove experienced teachers from classrooms that need them. Margaret Dugan, the state's deputy superintendent of schools, told the Journal the request is "politicizing the educational environment."
"Teachers should speak good grammar because kids pick up what they hear," Johanna Haver, an adviser to Arizona educators, told the Journal. "Where you draw the line is debatable."
The Education Department permits teachers who don't meet fluency standards to take classes to improve.
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