A week after passing a state immigration law that has drawn wide criticism that it is a racist law or at least will promote anti-American racial profiling, the Arizona legislature has banned state public schools from offering ethnic studies courses, according to a Fox News report.
Supporters of the bill say ethnic studies programs advocate separatism and racial preferences, that they go against the sentiments of men like Dr Martin Luther King, who asked that Americans be judged by the “content of their character, not the color of their skin.” The bill is making its way to the desk of Gov. Jan Brewer. It’s the next chapter in what many see as a war story pitting Arizona against its Latino residents.
Opponents are railing against the bill as another misguided overreach by lawmakers, who they say should not be involved in developing school curriculum. Educators have testified that ethnic studies programs are a powerful tool to teach history and culture.
The new bill would make it illegal for a school district to teach any courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”
The bill stipulates that courses can continue to be taught for Native American pupils in compliance with federal law and does not prohibit English as a second language classes. It also does not prohibit the teaching of the Holocaust or other cases of genocide.
This latest bulletin from the Arizona legislature reaches Colorado as students are marching on the capitol in Denver to protest the Arizona immigration law, which mainly gives power to local authorities to arrest people suspected of being in the country illegally. Rights activists in Colorado see the Arizona law as an extension of a law passed in Colorado in 2006.
Colorado’s HB 1023 passed during the administration of Republican Gov. Bill Owens during a special session of the State Legislature, when U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff was Speaker of the House. The law requires people to prove their “lawful presence” in the United States before receiving government services here.