In Essence, Racism on Trial in Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Suit
Diverse Issues in Higher Education
In Essence, Racism on Trial in Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Suit by Roberto Rodriguez
The Arce v Douglas ethnic studies trial, in Tucson’s Federal Court, is expected to commence in early 2017. The suit was filed against the state of Arizona, as a result of the state passing an anti-Ethnic Studies HB 2281 legislation in 2010. Yet for all intents and purposes, it is the discipline itself and, specifically, Tucson Unified School District’s former Raza Studies K-12 program that has been on trial since 2006.
That is the year when Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne began a relentless campaign to eliminate the program (created in 1998), charging that it promoted racism, segregation, the overthrow of the U.S. government and that it was founded upon non-Western values.
It was none of that, though students in fact were being taught to be critical thinkers; Enter Paolo Freire’ Pedagogy of the Oppressed, but not in Horne’s schools.
While the case has taken many turns, at the moment, the trial will focus on whether the state was motivated by racism while attempting to shut down the program.