APRIL 28, 2011
A public school district in Arizona is violating a new state law by continuing a radical La Raza studies program banned under the legislation because it segregates students by race, teaches disdain for American sovereignty and ignites racial hostility.Last year Arizona’s legislature passed a measure (HB 2281) banning taxpayer-funded schools from offering classes that are designed for students of a particular race and promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group (in this case whites). However, the Tucson UnifiedSchool District, with a largely Hispanic population, has yet to comply with the law which took effect in January.Students in elementary, middle and high school are still exposed to the biased ethnic studies curriculum which teaches kids that Mexicans are victims of a racist American societydriven by the interests of middle and upper-class whites. Children also learn that the southwestern United States was taken from Mexicans because of the insatiable greed of the Yankee who acquired values from the corrupted ethos of western civilization, according to a Hispanic teacher who taught in the program.Students are also told that California, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Texasare really Aztlan, the ancient homeland of the Aztecs, and that the area rightfully belongs to their descendants, people of indigenous Mexican heritage. The curriculum engenders racialirresponsibility, demeans America’s civil institutions, undermines public servants, discounts any virtues in western civilization and teaches disdain for American sovereignty, according the history teacher who blew the whistle on the La Raza program.In an effort to appease the area’s powerful Chicano community, the district—Arizona’s second largest—has proposed making courses in the controversial Mexican/Raza Studies program electives rather than the accredited core classes that they have been for years. A rowdy group of La Raza students refused the offer and stormed into this week’s school board meeting, where officials were scheduled to vote on the change, threatening to fight.A practical riot ensued and the unruly students chained themselves to board members’ chairs, forcing school officials to cancel the regularly scheduled meeting at Tucson Unified School District headquarters. The protest was organized by a youth coalition called UNIDOS or united. If the district caves into the threats and doesn’t eliminate the decades-old La Raza program, it stands to lose millions of dollars in state funding even though the ban has been legally challenged in federal court.Last fall a group of teachers in Tucson’s Mexican studies program filed a lawsuit claiming that eliminating the curriculum is unconstitutional and restricts free speech. In their complaint they also claim that students who take their Mexican ethnic courses score higher on standardizes tests, graduate from high school at higher rates, improve their overall grades and have better school attendance records.After a thorough examination, the district’s own statisticians found that students in the Mexican studies program did not perform any better than those who didn’t take the classes. The findings led a local newspaper columnist to write that the “bogus arguments” for ethnic studies have finally been “debunked” and that the claims were the only meaningful rational for the controversial program’s existence.
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