Saturday, May 15, 2010

AZ, What Are You Doing!?

I have to be honest, it's going to be really hard for me to not cringe when I hear the word "Arizona" for the next few years. Why, you may ask? Well, the state's at it again.

On May 11, Governor Jan Brewer signed another controversial bill that bans ethnic studies in public schools. HR 2281 officially bans courses that are geared towards a particular ethnic group. The reasoning behind this bill is simply that officials believe that these classes incite resentment of the United States government and have led to recent ethnically-charged social movements. Tom Horne, the state schools chief, claimed that these courses promoted "ethnic chauvinism" and sparked resentment towards white people. Yes, you've read correctly. A bill was recently passed in Arizona because officials felt that classes in their public education system were inciting racism against white people.

Before I go any further, I would just like to get one comment out of the way. White people are not being discriminated against to the point where we need to pass legislation to right these wrongs. Even more so, white people in Arizona are not being discriminated against. With that being said, I'd like to turn my attention to somewhat intelligent claims about this bill.

First of all, as a good friend of mine simply put it, banning anything relating to education is simply a step backward in society. As citizens of this country, we have a right to acquire knowledge. One of the courses under fire is named "United States History from a Mexican-American Perspective." How can anyone justify someone being denied the right to learn from that interesting and very valid perspective?

Secondly, a huge proponent of supporting claims of the bill is that the courses in question almost always are populated by students of the particular ethnicity that they're studying. This separates the students from other ethnic groups and incites resentment towards "white people". I'm sorry but I think it's pretty reasonable that Mexican-Americans would like to learn about the United States from a Mexican-American perspective. Dually noted, students of other ethnic descent are allowed to take these courses. Just because the demographic of classes is reasonably and predominantly of the particular ethnic group does not mean that the government should consider it to be cause for elimination.

Thirdly, since when is it right in this country to ban classes on the basis that they incite political activism and/or social movement? By that logic, should we place a ban on courses regarding the U.S. Constitution? After all, I've heard of a few rallies that had to do with basic rights. What about the reproductive rights class that will be taught in the fall at IU-Bloomington? What about any class that teaches you anything about social history or political theory? It's faulty logic to think that these are valid arguments and it's a disgrace to our nation's history to ban anything on the basis of its involvement in inciting activism.

Frankly, I've always been concerned over the way that Mexican-Americans are treated in the United States. As the years have gone by, tensions have increasingly risen. But that it's come to this? I'm disgusted with all that I hear on the news these days in regards to this mess. Mexican-Americans are being treated appallingly. There's no other way to say it. Our country is a melting pot. The United States would not be what it is today without all of the different cultures that exist here. We should be celebrating these differing cultures, not trying to wipe them out. What are we doing to our country's principles? What are we trying to become? What is Arizona trying to turn this country into?


Colleen Lowry said...

This is absolutely ridiculous. Arizona is giving this country a bad name. Someone needs to step up and kill all this nonsense these Republicans sit around and think up.

Aly said...

Excellent job, Sarah! I'm glad you picked up on this idiotic law; I'm sure plenty of people never even heard about it while national attention has been focused elsewhere.

Bill said...

Great post! But technically:

"banning anything relating to education is simply a step backward in society"

I would like to say that two exceptions are abstinence-only education and intelligent design.

Kelly Smith said...

Sarah, fantastic post! Arizona is quite repulsive these days...
...and it is SO important to know that these classes were not intentionally segregated. The way I've heard people justifying it, its like they broke down all the ethnic groups and made them go to different classes. I actually took a latino-perspective american studies elective in high school, and it was phenomenal. And I'm just a little irish/czech girl.

And I can't wait for the reproductive rights class in the fall ;) loved that you made that point about political activism. amen.

well done, jonesy!

Tim Ryan said...

Bill, you read my mind.

Anyways, looks like the whole southwest is a mess now. This is nothing on the sweeping education reform passing through Texas. Downplaying Thomas Jefferson, arguing against the separation of church and state, teaching the pros AND CONS of the civil rights movement, completely omitting Tejanos' impact on the history of Texas, claiming that McCarthyism was justified, and putting an emphasis on the so-called "rise of conservatism" in the 80's and 90's. Good thing I graduated when I did. These neo-cons (neo-fascists) aren't promoting education, they're promoting indoctrination.