Ethnic studies vital to district

Arizona made headlines in April for its controversial new immigration policy. Now, the spotlight is on a new state policy, one that will cut Mexican-American studies from one Tucson-area school district.

The Falcon believes this law is extremely harmful to ethnic minorities whose rich cultures have shaped the United States, and to the students whose educations will greatly suffer as a result of this new law.

Under the guise of individualism, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a law stating that schools offering ethnic studies programs promoting any specific minority groups would be at risk of losing 10 percent of their funds from the state, according to a May 12 Los Angeles Times article, titled “Arizona bill targeting ethnic studies signed into law.”

The law, which was passed in May and will go into effect this winter, will effectively cut Mexican-American studies programs from Tucson-area classrooms. This action prompted a lawsuit from 11 teachers in the district.

Brewer said the move to eliminate ethnic studies is an attempt to help students learn to treat others equally, regardless of class or race. However, the Falcon believes an education system must always be well balanced and inclusive to all of history. The law, which limits education and borders on censorship, must be repealed.

To ensure all students receive the best possible education, it is necessary to acknowledge cultural backgrounds and differences. While this does not mean students should feel divided or oppressed because of race, such acknowledgement does require public schools to teach ethnic studies in a way that welcomes all heritages.

If all students are equal, as Brewer believes, then all cultures should also be treated equally in the classroom.

The Falcon believes Brewer’s attempt to create a culturally-equal learning environment implies that Mexican-American history and culture is subversive or harmful to society. Moreover, failure to teach Mexican-American history in the classroom will completely overlook a portion of Arizona’s founding history and population.

Arizona’s law threatening to cut state funding for schools that offer ethnic studies programs is unacceptable. No one, not even the state, has the right to pick and choose facts of state history.

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Title: Ethnic studies vital to district | Author: Melissa Steffan and Angelica Alcantara and Adrienne Pollock and Haley Libak | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2010-10-27 | Internal ID: 7265