Tucson’s Ethnic-Studies Program Violates Arizona Law, Judge Rules

Stephen Ceasar, Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2011

Tucson’s Mexican American studies program violates state law, an Arizona administrative law judge ruled Tuesday, paving the way for the program’s possible demise.

Judge Lewis D. Kowal affirmed a prior decision by the state’s schools chief that the Tucson Unified School District’s program violates a new law prohibiting divisive ethnic-studies classes.

John Huppenthal, the state superintendent of public instruction, had deemed the program in violation in June. Among other things, the law bans classes primarily designed for a particular ethnic group or that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.”

The school district appealed Huppenthal’s ruling, and testimony before the administrative law judge concluded in October.

Kowal’s decision is merely a recommendation to Huppenthal, who can take action against the program if it does not come into compliance with the law. Any such action is likely to be challenged in court.

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The program’s opponents–led by Huppenthal, a veteran state senator elected superintendent of public instruction last year–say that by framing historical events in racial terms, the teachers promote groupthink and victimhood.

A pending case in federal court contends the state law is unconstitutional. Eleven teachers and two students have requested an injunction to halt its implementation.

A federal judge in Tucson heard arguments on the injunction last month but will soon rule on Huppenthal’s motion to dismiss the case. If he does dismiss it, the request for an injunction would be moot.

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