Arizona Goes Two for Two

Outlawing racist bigotry in the public schools.

Ethnic politics, which is a polite term for racial politics if not racist politics, has been poisoning American society for decades.  Various minority groups have agitated for the creation of special university departments dedicated to "black studies," "Hispanic studies," "La Raza," and other ethnic-focused notions.

While there's nothing wrong with teaching about the accomplishments of individuals of various cultural backgrounds, emphasizing any racial or ethnic group identity as opposed to unitary American identity is a recipe for conflict.  Do we really want to create our very own separatist movement like the French-speakers in Quebec who keep agitating for special privileges?

In "Arizona Legislature Passes Bill to Curb 'Chauvinism' in Ethnic Studies Programs," Fox News reports:

After making national headlines for a new law on illegal immigrants, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill Thursday that would ban ethnic studies programs in the state that critics say currently advocate separatism and racial preferences[emphasis added]

The Arizona lawmakers are certainly correct in pointing out that ethnics studies at schools advocate splitting the US apart and support racial preferences which end up making different groups dislike each other.  We've seen schools celebrate "diversity day," which in practice means praising anyone who criticizes American values and culture and criticizing anyone who talks about what made America great.  We've seen schools try to tear down any student's beliefs in traditional values.  This has become so pronounced that it's become a major part of the "culture wars."

The article goes on to state the reasoning behind the bill:

State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Horne called passage in the state House a victory for the principle that education should unite, not divide students of differing backgrounds. [emphasis added]

How could anyone not be in favor of an educational process bringing students together so that they can grow up to be citizens of a unified United States?  After all, our national motto is E pluribus unum - "Out of many, one."

Unfortunately, all too many of our leaders have found electoral and financial profit in stirring up quarrels between people of different races.  The worst of this sort of racial poison has been filtering down into our schools for decades.

"Traditionally, the American public school system has brought together students from different backgrounds and taught them to be Americans and to treat each other as individuals, and not on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds," Horne said.  "This is consistent with the fundamental American value that we are all individuals, not exemplars of whatever ethnic groups we were born into.  Ethnic studies programs teach the opposite, and are designed to promote ethnic chauvinism."

Horne began fighting in 2007 against the Tucson Unified School District's program, which he said defied Martin Luther King's call to judge a person by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.  Horne claimed the ethnic studies program encourages "ethnic chauvinism," promotes Latinos to rise up and create a new territory out of the southwestern region of the United States and tries to intimidate conservative teachers in the school system.

The bill also makes the obvious point that teachers who have heavy foreign accents shouldn't teach English.  Imagine that!  Expecting people who teach English to be able to speak it well!

The law also makes it illegal for teachers to advocate the overthrow of the United States government.  Since treason is already against the law, at least in theory, one wonders what's been going on in the liberal-dominated Arizona public schools that would require an explicit ban of what should be patently unthinkable.

It's interesting to note that opponents of the new law argued that the state legislature ought not to be involved in developing school curriculum.  This is an amazing demonstration of the sort of liberal hypocrisy we've come to expect.  Governmental tinkering with curricula, to the total destruction of academic standards, has been fine for the half-century or more that the Left has been doing it and getting away with it; only now that the the Right is finally making some headway in the opposite direction do the "anti-meddlers" come out of hiding.

Liberal views of government control of education depend entirely on what the government plans to mandate.  In an editorial "National School Standards, at Last" bemoaning the fact that the United States has a tradition of local control of schools paid for by local taxpayers and run mostly by local authorities, the New York Times wrote:

The United States relies on a generally mediocre patchwork of standards that vary, not just from state to state, but often from district to district.  A child's education depends primarily on ZIP code.

That could eventually change if the states adopt the new rigorous standards proposed last week by the National Governors Association and a group representing state school superintendents.  The proposal lays out clear, ambitious goals for what children should learn year to year and could change curricula, tests and teacher training.

To liberals, having even the far-off federal government involved in setting educational curricula is perfectly OK provided that they spin the curriculum toward liberal views.  When states like Arizona or Texas try to respect local views which may differ from those of our coastal elites, they are implicitly arguing that education should be a local matter.

Coming on top of the Texas school board mandating a more traditional approach to teaching history, this common-sense Arizona law may represent a trend toward taking our schools back from those who would rather shatter our nation than unify it.  What's next for the great state of Arizona - a balanced and sustainable budget?

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
Well, you've hit me twice with this article, as I both have some sympathy for the Quebecois (being of Acadian heritage) and oppose the trend towards national control of our school systems (being an educator).

I'm all for US unity of a sort, but I do question why I never learned anything about what happened to the Acadians in 1755 until I hit my 30s, especially since I'm the first generation of my family that DIDN'T speak French as a first language (and the Mayflower beat us to North America by a scant 20 years). I understand that there is simply too much diversity in the USA for our public schools to teach everyone's story, but still I think there should be a place for learning about one's ethnic heritage. As it stands, for the longest time I knew more about (for example) the Jewish heritage than my own (although there are those who claim that the Acadians were originally Jewish). There is something strange about that.

As for the federalization of our school systems, I completely agree that it is getting out of hand. The latest fiasco with the "Race to the Top" money is a frightening example because it shows that the Fed has learned that it doesn't even have to buy off every state's vote in order to overstep its legislative bonds; all it really has to do is offer a cash prize to the state that BEST IMPLEMENTS THE LEGISLATION DESIRED BY THE FED, and the states fall over themselves like puppies trying to do exactly what the Fed tells them to do! It's a lot cheaper for the Fed because the cash prize (formed from tax monies taken from the citizens of the states themselves) doesn't need to be as large a sum as the usual state buyoffs it has been resorting to over the years. Expect to see more of the same from our Federal government on other issues as time passes!
May 3, 2010 8:41 PM
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