Arizona educators clash over Mexican American studies
A new Arizona law aims to ban ethnic studies classes deemed to be divisive, and the state's schools superintendent says Tucson's program is in violation. Teachers and students are fighting back.
By Stephen Ceasar
November 20, 2011
A state law adopted this year aims to outlaw divisive ethnic studies, and Arizona's public schools chief John Huppenthal will soon decide whether the Tucson district's program violates the law and should be eliminated. In a state known for cultural clashes, the debate over the future of Mexican American studies in Tucson is particularly charged, prompting raucous protests and a host of accusations — of brainwashing, of sloppy academics, of racism.
Program proponents say the classes push Latino students to excel and teach a long-neglected slice of America's cultural heritage — Chicano perspectives on literature, history and social justice.
Its critics — led by Huppenthal, a veteran state senator elected superintendent of public instruction last year — say that framing historical events in racial terms "to create a sense of solidarity" promotes groupthink and victim hood.
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