Posted by on January 04, 2011 in Blog

While Arizona’s SB 1070 measure, seemingly legitimizing racial profiling as a means of targeting undocumented immigrants, garnered significant media attention, it is not the only problematic measure in Arizona. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer also signed into law a controversial measure targeting ethnic studies classes in public schools. The law states that Arizona school districts will not include any courses that, along with other things, promote the overthrow of the United States government, are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity. School districts that do so could lose up to ten percent of state funding. This law went into effect on January 1, 2011.

Current Arizona Attorney General, Tom Horne, defended the law stating that it encouraged unity, and argued that ethnic studies classes teach “one-sided propaganda.”  While the law ostensibly aims to promote harmony over division, it cannot be seriously argued that learning about one’s own history or culture is an impediment to such unity. Indeed, banning access to such educational opportunities may further marginalize those who have already been systematically marginalized, thus undermining the very stated intent of the law.

The Arab American Institute will be monitoring this situation closely.