Arizona: Now Banning Pretty Much Everything


On Tuesday of this week, Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill banning schools from teaching classes “that are designed for students of a particular ethnic group, promote resentment or advocate ethnic solidarity over treating pupils as individuals, or promote the overthrow of the U.S. government,” reports the L.A. Times.

If you’ll recall, 20-some days ago Brewer signed the very immigration bill that has caused widespread protests in and against the state, including refried beans being spackled to the Arizona State Capitol and a public decrying of AriZona-brand beverages (which aren’t really from Arizona at all, it turns out — so drink up!).

The new bill, HB 2281, was written to target the Chicano studies program in the Tucson school system, said state Superintendant of Public Instruction Tom Horne, who has pushed for the bill for years and now just so happens to be a candidate for attorney general. His argument: Public schools should not be encouraging students to resent a particular race.

But those studies — courses from elementary school through high school in topics such as literature, history, and social justice, with an emphasis on Latino authors and history — actually help kids, say people like Judy Burns, president of the Tucson Unified School District’s governing board, who “has no intention of ending the program.” And, if we’re to believe a bunch of UN human rights experts, six of them did say in a statement that all people have the right to learn about their own cultural and linguistic heritage.

Having attended high school ourselves once, we’d say “resentment” is not about the content of the classes, so much — more about having to be there at all — and, frankly, if you can get a kid interested in something that’s not a video game or drug-or-gun-based, do it (we’re old-fashioned like that). Meanwhile, does this throw into question the Italian studies class we very much enjoyed our junior year abroad? What about our 3 years of Chinese, or everything we know about Napoleon? If we all say “slippery slope” together does that mean we’re not being treated as individuals?

School districts that don’t comply with the new law could have as much as 10% of their state funds withheld each month. Districts have the right to appeal the mandate, which goes into effect Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, a group of seven Arizona religious leaders visited Capitol Hill today to lobby for comprehensive immigration reform. Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to stop doing ($52 billion worth of) business with Arizona until the immigration law is repealed, and today agreed to ban most city travel to Arizona and future contracts with companies in the state.

Per a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 46% of us support the immigration legislation, while 24% are strongly opposed, and in a Gallup survey, 10% of Americans polled called immigration “the nation’s most important problem” — “the highest percentage with that opinion that Gallup had recorded in more than two years.”

So, yeah, it’s on the radar. Until that gets banned too.