Arizona’s Ban On Ethnic Studies Heads For The Courts

Immigration laws have been a source of contention for many decades. Some people argue in favor of laws that are more lax. They say the country needs more people and that all should be allowed to come here. Others argue that the country should have laws that stricter and focus primarily on skills and education rather than merely inviting any given able bodied person to America. In Arizona, this issue has been of particular concern. As a state bordering Mexico, many residents fear being swallowed up by the large neighbor just to the south. In response to this issues, efforts have been put forth to urge those settling in the state from Mexico to assimilate into the broader American culture.

A New Law

In 2010, the Arizona governor and other state officials decided to take action against the perception that perhaps more needs to be done in order to encourage unity. Jan Brewer, a highly popular governor, signed a bill called HB 2281 into law. This law mandates what can and cannot be taught in the local public schools in Arizona. The law states that all state public school districts are not allowed to offer what has been deemed ethnic studies classes to their students. The aim of the law is to prevent teachers from teaching children classes that state officials feel promotes ethnic solidarity rather than suggesting that all pupils are individuals with widely differing needs. The law is actually aimed at a specific part of the curriculum that has been in place in one specific school district.

Tucson School District

The subject of the lawsuit is one that is based on Mexican-American studies program. This program has been taught many Tucson public schools for over two decades without comments. Many of those who are in favor of this program have argued that it enables students in the area to improve their self-esteem and do far better in school. They have also argued that this program should be retained. However, in the last seven years the program has been a source of contention for legislators who feel that it does not help students or the overall goal of the state in regards to assimilation into the broader culture.

Back In The Court System

Since that time, the court system has taken the issue in question under consideration. The issue is back in the court system right now. Federal courts in Arizona have taken up this case and expected to issue a ruling soon. Many Republicans support the legislation as they feel this law is a source of problems in the Hispanic community and teaches Latinos to view those who are not Latinos as their enemies. Others feel that it helps students by linking them to a culture that many find familiar and comforting. They argue that those students who take it have better test scores and a lower high school drop out rate. They also argue that the law is not constitutional and will not stand up in court.

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