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Arizona Lawmakers Want Ethnic Studies Out of Classroom


Ethnic studies curriculum may be under siege in Arizona. Some state lawmakers want to pass a bill (SB 1108) preventing public schools, including community colleges and universities, from teaching lessons that "denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization." The backers oppose curriculum that "overtly encourages dissent" from democracy, capitalism, pluralism, and religious tolerance. Hm . . . not sure how you have a thriving democracy without dissent.

Tucson Unified District's Raza Studies sits at the center of this controversy. The bill's author, Republican State Representative Russell Pearce, calls the curriculum — which includes text book entries about a 1915 Mexico plan to reclaim the Southwest — "hate speech." Pearce has been known to call babies born in the US to foreigners "anchor babies" or "jackpot babies."

A temperate critique of Tucson's ethnic studies, as espoused by the National Review, maintains that Hispanic students do not benefit from an education predicated on their ethnic identity. Yet I think even this line of thinking does not require that the Hispanic perspective be stricken from Arizona academia. Instead it should be part of an inclusive, diverse, and very American education.

Some Arizonans view the bill and rhetoric as xenophobic. Do you agree, or do think ethnic studies could spawn hate or revolution?

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