Arizona follows Texas’ lead in whitewashing education
You know what Arizona hasn’t had enough of lately? Racist bullshit. Oh, wait. But as if its xenophobic new immigration law weren’t enough (the Los Angeles City Council voted today to boycott the state because of the measure), today Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill banning ethnic studies programs in Arizona schools.
With stupendous irony, the bill declares that students “should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.” But how will students ever learn to value one another and appreciate their differences if not through education and exposure to cultural history? If all they’re being taught is that some people’s parents can get pulled over for having brown skin, and provided only with a whitewashed version of history that presumes the history of white people is the default history of everyone, won’t they indeed be groomed to “resent or hate other races or classes of people”?
As Adam Serwer wisely pointed out over at The American Prospect, “It may seem more intuitive to think that personal experiences, political rhetoric, and laws targeting certain ethnic groups — like Arizona’s recently passed immigration law — may be the cause of racial resentment among minorities. But to conservatives, it’s actually that minorities believe whatever white people tell them, and if they can get rid of these nasty ethnic studies classes then resentment will go away.”
A specific ethnic studies program taught at the Tucson Unified School District is purportedly the target of the law, and stamping it out has been a cause for state schools chief Tom Horne, reports Talking Points Memo, who thinks the program encourages “ethnic chauvinism” among Latino students. But that assumes that the only people who take ethnic studies classes are ethnic minorities themselves – a pretty glaring misunderstanding of how public school programs work.
The move follows a set of controversial, and shameful, changes to social studies curriculum in the state of Texas that similarly whitewashes education by altering how the Civil Rights movement is taught, among other things, and de-emphasizing figures like Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez.
Of course, Texas and Arizona both have some of the most diverse school districts in the nation. And yet, here is Arizona, banning programs that “prohibit classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group” — because of course ethnic studies are designed for a certain ethnic group – why the hell would white kids want to learn about brown kids? (Obviously, as a blonde, I only ended up in so many black culture classes in college because I’m too dumb to figure out those pesky registration forms!)