You may recall that, in May 2010, Arizona's delightful Republican governor, Jan Brewer, signed a bill into law banning ethnic-studies classes that "promote resentment" of other racial groups. As a result of that bill, co-written by then-state Senator and now-state Public Schools Superintendent JohnHuppenthal and Attorney General Tom Horne, an administrative judge ruled last week that the Mexican-American studies program in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) was a violation of Huppenthal and Horne's HB2281 brainchild.
So, faced with the loss of almost $15 million in state funding if they didn't terminate the Mexican-American studies program, the TUSD governing board voted 4-1 last week to kill it, causing hundreds of students to be transferred to so-called "traditional" social-studies classes mid-semester.
Then, an initial list of books to be banned from its schools was released by the TUSD on Friday. It included titles like the twenty-year-old textbook Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, and, most stupefying, Shakespeare's generally-acknowledged last play, The Tempest. Administrators had warned Mexican-American studies teachers to avoid any books where "race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes." (Perhaps they were aware that the book had started being taught through the lens of postcolonial theory a few decades back.)
So, as district spokesperson Cara Rene put it, the offending tomes "will be cleared from all classrooms, boxed up and sent to the Textbook Depository for storage." (Where, hopefully, no snipers are lurking.) Huppenthal, who compared Mexican-American studies to Hitler Youth indoctrination last fall, believes that framing historical events in racial terms "to create a sense of solidarity" promotes groupthink and victimhood.
Let's face it, these classes weren't encouraging budding Pancho Villas. It was just some students curious about their heritage. Arizona was once a part of Mexico, after all. The state's Latino population has almost doubled in the past twenty years, and that hasn't sat well with the right wing. Makes you wonder who's really "promoting resentment" here.