Two years ago, Arizona outlawed the teaching of ethnic studies in K-12 schools, and now it may expand the prohibition to universities too.
Just weeks after the state passed its infamous immigration law, it also passed a law aimed at scuttling Tucsonâ€™s Mexican-American studies program, which critics claimed taught kids to resent white people. The argument, at the time, was that teaching subjects like critical race theory to kids in high school amounted to indoctrination because they were not old enough to question the teaching critically, like university students.
But now, Arizonaâ€™s chief education official sees university-level Mexican-American sudies programs as a danger too:
Arizonaâ€™s superintendent of schools, John Huppenthal, says Tucsonâ€™s suspended Mexican American studies curricula teaches students to resent Anglos, and that the university program that educated the public school teachers is to blame.
â€śI think thatâ€™s where this toxic thing starts from, the universities,â€ť Arizona Superintendent of Schools John Huppenthal said in an interview with Fox News Latino. â€śTo me, the pervasive problem was the lack of balance going on in these classes,â€ť Huppenthal said.
Not surprisingly, a long list of Latino groups and education activists have protested the move, as they did when the state shut down Tucsonâ€™s program, decrying the imposition on free speech. â€śWhat weâ€™re trying to do is expose children to a much broader perspective, so that weâ€™re not indoctrinating,â€ť said Augustine Romero, the former director of Tucsonâ€™s Mexican American Studies Department.
The ethnic studies law, which bans schools from offering courses designed for a specific ethnicity, had far-ranging consequences, including banning books like Shakespeareâ€™s The Tempest and other seemingly anodyne works of literature.
And while many call the state prohibitions unprecedented, Devon PeĂ±a, the former director of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies said, â€śThere is a precedent, and itâ€™s called McCarthyism.â€ť â€śItâ€™s just a witch hunt of a different color. Now, instead of going after the reds, theyâ€™re going after the browns.â€ť