Shuttered Mexican-American studies program back in courtJuly 17, 2017 8:18pm

PHOENIX (AP) — A federal trial considering whether an Arizona law that shuttered a popular Mexican-American studies program in Tucson was enacted with discriminatory intent resumes this week and will include testimony from the man behind the effort to end the program.

Former Arizona schools chief Tom Horne, who was behind the battle against the program the year that lawmakers passed the state's landmark immigration law, is scheduled to testify on Tuesday. He also defended the law that restricts ethnic studies courses in public schools as the state's former attorney general, saying it helped keep "radical" curriculum out of classrooms.

The 2010 law prohibits courses if they promote resentment toward a race or a class of people, are designed primarily for peoples of a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of peoples as individuals.

It effectively ended the Mexican-American studies program at the Tucson Unified School District, launching protests by students and parents who felt the courses were important and improved performance in school.

A group of students sued the state over the ban, saying it was overly broad and violates the right of free speech.

Most of the law has been upheld by the courts, but a judge will now determine whether it was enacted with discriminatory intent.

"The legislative history makes clear that the statute while, broader in nature, was directed at the Mexican-American studies program," plaintiffs' attorney Jim Quinn said.

Arizona denies that the law was enacted with racial discrimination.

"With respect to TUSD's MAS program, the evidence shows that concerns existed that the program was based on a divisive, separatist, politicized pedagogy that taught students to see themselves as exemplars of an oppressed ethnicity rather than as individuals with the opportunity to control their own destinies and achieve their own goals," state attorneys wrote in court filings.

The Tucson program was implemented in 1998 and focused on Mexican-American history, literature and art in an effort to keep Mexican-American students in school and engaged. The TUSD board dismantled the program in January 2012, a month after the law took effect, to keep from losing state funding. Program advocates say students who participated in the program outperformed their peers in grades and standardized tests.

Horne's grievance with the program dates back to 2006, when labor rights activist Dolores Huerta delivered a speech at a TUSD high school in which she said Republicans hate Latinos.

Horne got word of the comments and sent an aide to rebuff the remark. The aide, a Latino woman who told students she was a proud Republican, was met with protests. Horne attributed the protests to students in the Mexican-American Studies program.

A years-long battle against the program began. In 2010, the same year Arizona passed its landmark immigration law known as SB1070, legislators approved the ethnic studies law. It took effect at the end of 2011.

In 2015, the Tucson Unified School District said it was expanding the teaching of a "culturally relevant" curriculum developed to follow a decades-old racial desegregation lawsuit.

The announcement by the district's former superintendent was met with disapproval by the man who was at that time in charge of state schools, John Huppenthal. He spent his last hours in office threatening to cut school funding over the new courses. He had just lost a primary election after news reports revealed he had been posting derogatory comments— including about the Mexican-American Studies program— under a pseudonym online.

Huppenthal, who as a state senator helped pass the ban on ethnic studies, testified in court this month that he didn't think passing the 2010 law would necessarily end the Mexican-American studies program. He said he thought the program would be changed but not canceled.

Huppenthal told The Associated Press he felt the ongoing trial was irrelevant because the district has resumed some form of ethnic studies and is being monitored by the state.

"I think that Tucson Unified learned a valuable lesson which I hoped they did about the fact when you have something like this that's controversial, you need to follow state law, you need to follow a curriculum," Huppenthal said.

The culturally relevant courses are now taught at all TUSD high schools, Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said Monday. Trujillo says the district worked with the Arizona Department of Education to ensure the courses don't violate the state law. He said the courses are "very scripted" and include offerings like American history from an African-American perspective.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

White nationalist leader pleads guilty in Trump rally caseA white nationalist group leader has pleaded guilty to an amended charge stemming from an accusation that he physically harassed a woman during a rally in Louisville for Donald Trump last year
FILE - In this Nov. 19. 2014 file photo Yvette Felarca, an alumni of the University of California Berkeley and member of the group By Any Means Necessary, claps and yells as a vote is taken to raise tuition during a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents in San Francisco. The Sacramento County District Attorney's office said Wednesday, July 19, 2017, that Felarca was arrested Tuesday on charges of assault and inciting and participating in a riot stemming from a brawl during a protest at the state Capitol last year. Yvette Felarca is the name used by a leader of the group By Any Means Necessary, but public records show her given name is Yvonne Capistrano Felarca. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
Anti-fascist leader arrested after California Capitol brawl
Tennessee inmates get reduced sentences for birth controlA program in a Tennessee county reduces inmates' jail time if they voluntarily undergo birth control procedures, in a move that has drawn criticism from the local district attorney and the American Civil Liberties Union
Joaquin Carcano speaks during a news conference in Raleigh, NC., Friday, July 21, 2017, announcing a new lawsuit over LGBT rights. The lawsuit renews a high-profile legal battle that has thrust North Carolina into the center of the national debate over LGBT rights. The state took the "bathroom bill" off the books in late March after a yearlong backlash that hurt North Carolina's reputation and caused businesses and sports leagues to back out of lucrative events and projects. Carcano and Madeline Goss, right, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. (AP Photo/Jonathan Drew)
Lawsuit: Effects of 'bathroom bill' linger in North Carolina
FILE- In this Sept. 1, 2015, file photo, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis listens to a customer at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky. A federal judge on Friday, July 21, 2017, has ordered Kentucky taxpayers to pay more than $220,000 in attorneys' fees for an elected county clerk who caused a national uproar by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)
Kentucky told to pay attorney fees in same-sex marriage case
This July 17, 2017, Dr. Ernest Marshall, owner of the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, is pictured at the door of the clinic in Louisville, KY. The clinic is the last in Kentucky offering abortion procedures and is facing a legal challenge from state officials and a major protest from a national anti-abortion group that wants it shut down. (AP Photo/Dylan Lovan)
Abortion fight rages in Kentucky, which has just 1 clinic
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices