Ethnic Studies in Arizona: Both Sides of the Story

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The Tucson Unified School District Board elected to suspend the Mexican-American Studies Program to be in compliance with the state law Arizona statute ARS 15-112. This decision was also made to avoid losing ten percent of its budget in this period of a struggling economy; but that does not complete the story. The history of disagreement began when Tom Horne, the State Superintendent of Schools, during the last days of his term found Tucson School District in violation of all four provisions of the state law ARS 15-112. John Huppenthal, who took over as Superintendent of Schools followed up on the decision by ordering an audit of the program and concluded the same. What is ARS 15-112 and how does it relate to Ethnic Studies Program at TUSD. There are different points of view on the bill. According to some resources, this law was specifically written to ban the ethnic studies program, whereas some feel the motive behind the law is not to end ethnic studies but solidarity among race. Moving further it is noted in the Los Angeles Times report “a bill that aims to ban ethnic studies in Arizona schools was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer” (Santa Cruz). So the law has already marked its impression that it intends to dismantle ethnic studies program. Now if the other side of the story is taken into consideration there are people who feel Mexican American Studies program is alarming as it contradicts with the law and encourages overthrow of the government. The language used in the bill is very clear and it is focuses on prohibiting courses and classes. Also the fourth clause specifically states that ethnic solidarity, instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals, cannot be advocated (ARS 15-112). The statute further gives specific guidelines to school district to stay in compliance. Even if they are not in compliance, the law does not force them to stop the Ethnic Studies Program, the penalty they have is ten percent of deduction in their state funding. So...
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