According to a report by CNN, a law in Arizona banning the studies of Mexican-American subjects in schools across the state has been nullified.
The law which was originally implemented to deter “revolution against the American government” was described in federal court as a violation of their student’s rights.
Affected Studies Program
A program that was affected by this law was a Mexican-American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona, said to be designed for students in a specific ethnic group by state lawmakers.
According to Richard Martinez, the attorney representing Mexican-American students attending schools in Tucson, soon after this law was officiated by Governor Jan Brewer, students took action to sue.
“This was their curriculum that was intended to be responsive to them…culturally, linguistically, educationally,” stated Martinez. “The program had a very strong effect on students’ achievement… in fact, most of the students finished high school and matriculated to college, which was unprecedented at Tucson Unified School District.”
Education officials in Arizona did not comment on this ruling however several weighed in on such programs previously. Tucson’s program did, however, draw negative attention concerning Arizona state’s Department of Education. The public instruction’s former superintendent, Tom Horne, stated that this program is “‘extremely anti-American” as it endorses “essentially revolution against the American government.”
Established in 1998, the programme included subjects such as literature, art, history, and government which focused on “historic and contemporary Mexican-American contributions.” The programme was intended to engage Mexican-American students and help “close the historic gap in academic achievement between Mexican-American and white students in Tucson.” Since, the curriculum was noted to be a success and was advocated by Wallace Tashima, District Court Judge.
Court documents claimed that Horne never actually attended any classes himself yet recommended the curriculum be canceled. When denied, he “began lobbying for state-wide legislation that would ban the program.” Horne’s third attempt at the bill prohibiting the House to pass ethnic classes.
That was when John Huppenthal, a Senator who was chairman of the Senate Education
According to court John Huppenthal, Senator and Senate Education Accountability and Reform Committee chairman wrote prejudiced comments online several months following the passing of the bill. His statements included comments such as, “I don’t mind them selling Mexican food as long as the menus are mostly in English.” In addition, Huppenthal stated that to embrace ethnic values is “the rejection of success and embracement of failure”. He also opposed Spanish media stating, “This is America, speak English.” He posted a blog comment that compared Mexican-American classes as the “KKK in a different color,” calling teachers skinheads as well as said they “use the exact same technique that Hitler used in his rise to power.”
The court’s judgment stated that his comments were “the most important and direct evidence that racial animus infected the decision to enact” this bill.
It was concluded that this bill “was enacted and enforced with a discriminatory purpose” considering “students have a First Amendment right to receive information and ideas”. It was also concluded that and Diane Douglas, Horne and Huppenthal “acted contrary to the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” “violated students’ constitutional rights,” and that this law “was not enacted in a legitimate educational purpose.