Arizona Strikes Again: Now Education is Under Attack

What is really going on in Arizona? As if creating an immigration law that can be perceived as racist wasn't enough, now the Arizona Legislature has decided that schools that teach courses about various races will lose state funding.

The exact wording of the document states that schools will lose funding if they "promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."

Now there are some major issues with this policy. Of course I fully agree that if there are teachers and schools that are promoting overthrowing the American government they should lose funding. What American wouldn't agree with a policy like that? But I believe that comparing acts of treason to courses that "advocate ethnic solidarity" is completely ridiculous and frankly racist. Under this law if schools teach the history of anti-government groups they can be grouped with schools that teach the history of the Black Migration, Harlem, Chinatown or Latinos. Where is the correlation?

History and Humanities classes already lack much true discussion of peoples of color as is. It often feels like the histories of non-white people from around the world, and even people of color that were of vital importance to the making of America are often overlooked. I often found myself struggling to find instances in American History classes both in college and before that dealt with non-white people. This caused so much frustration for me and many of my peers that we fought for changes to the core curriculum at my university. My story is not unique at all. Many of my friends went through the same struggles and decided on taking similar actions.

I find that it is completely offensive for Arizona to want to ban classes that teach the histories of diverse people. It seems that in 2010 there should be more classes of this nature and not less. In an increasingly diverse country where very soon white people are going to be outnumbered by non-whites and where people of color have been vital to the history and creation of this country, history classes of a diverse nature need to be enhanced. These classes not only benefit the student of color who doesn't hear about people that look like him often, but can be just as beneficial to white students as well. It can create an understanding of the world and other peoples that they may not have the chance to see or experience. Proper education can create more tolerance and understanding. But I suppose Arizona, the last state to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. as a holiday, and the state that is implementing an immigration law that can discriminate against people of color continues the pattern of racially oppressive politics with this educational policy. Unfortunately the ones who suffer the most are the children. That is truly the saddest part.

Comments

Brandi L said…
The saddest thing is that that whole region of the US (and soon the rest on the nation as this movement, I feel this word is appropriate, spreads across the nation) is experiencing this. There is a new, conservative movement towards education reform that stresses religion, "color blindness," the stomping out of counter-cultural movements, and slanted depictions of history. The Texan BOE already approved changes to their texts books to promote capitalism and conservatism, and question secularism. Historical figures are being "swapped" or erased if their views are conservative enough. Entire periods of time and movements are being erased. The Texas BOE denied the request to include more Hispanic and Chicano historical figures, and patted themselves on the back for deciding to keep both the Black Power/Panthers and the Civil Rights/ Non-violent Movements in textbooks. Yes, let's applauded them for recognizing that they shouldn't erase American history. It's even scarier when you realize that Texas is where most textbooks are made, for all different levels of education.(article about Texas BOW: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html) It may seem absolutely ridiculous that all of this is happening, but come on- we know better than that. Institutionalized racism is at its height now that we're a "post-race," "colorblind" society that can appreciate both liberalism and conservatism, even though one blatantly hurts people of color. The saddest thing really is that minorities are starting to be brainwashed by this mentality, blinded by the desire for their country to accept them when it hasn't done so for hundreds of years, and never will.
As I have mentioned to you many times Brandi, I am thoroughly impressed with not just how you are able to articulate such deep points on race and diversity, but furthermore take them and make them applicable and dig deeper on the various points. The complexity is something that takes years to develop and I think you are years ahead of the curve. Good stuff!

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