What Is Wrong With The Arizona State Legislature?

There is seemingly no shortage of terribly misguided ideas that are getting passed through the Arizona State Legislature.  Another anti-intellectual law proposed and pushed by conservatives was made known to the nation today when The New York Times reported on “antiwhite” educational material being banned from Arizona classrooms.

I am not making this up!  It must be mighty sad to be a conservative in Arizona and think behind every brown-skinned person lurks an anarchist.

On Jan. 1, after a new state law targeting Mexican-American studies courses that are perceived as antiwhite was upheld, it became illegal to teach “Mexican WhiteBoy” in Tucson’s classrooms. State officials cited the book as containing “critical race theory,” a violation under a provision that prohibits lessons “promoting racial resentment.”

For those who have read the book, like Ana, it is hard to figure. In “Mexican WhiteBoy,” the hero’s hope is to become a pitcher on his school’s baseball team.       

The novel’s story is pretty much the American dream. (My emphasis added.)

In 2010, after several attempts, the Republican-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor passed a law prohibiting classes that advocate overthrowing the government, are designed for students of one ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating pupils as individuals. The state wanted Tucson’s Mexican-American studies program disbanded.       

When Tucson officials resisted, the attorney general’s office issued subpoenas. Investigators obtained textbooks, PowerPoint presentations, teachers’ college theses, exam prompts, poems and lyrics from hip-hop songs.       

Class lessons were singled out over apparent political bias, among them “From Cortes to Bush: 500 Years of Internalized Oppression.” Seven texts were ordered removed from all classrooms, including “Chicano! The History of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement” by F. Arturo Rosales and “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire.       

“Mexican WhiteBoy” fell into a category of books that could no longer be taught but could be used by students for leisure reading. To get an independent assessment of the program, the state hired a consultant, for $110,000, to conduct an audit.       

The audit found that while some aspects of the program needed changing, it was doing a good job. It noted that students who took Mexican-American studies were more likely to attend college, and that the program helped close the achievement gap. The state ignored the audit, calling it flawed.       

John Huppenthal, the new state superintendent, told a reporter that he was fighting a war. “When we encountered this situation, we did what Hannibal did to the Romans,” he said. “This is the eternal battle, the eternal battle of all time, the forces of collectivism against the forces of individuality.”       

In January, facing a $15 million penalty from the state for failure to comply, the Tucson resistors threw down their arms. Administrators went from room to room, collecting hundreds of copies of the seven textbooks.       

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