Mexican-American Studies Are Illegal: Arizona Judge

State law bars studies promoting ethnic solidarity

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 29, 2011 3:00 AM CST

(Newser) – An Arizona judge has declared that a Tucson Mexican-American ethnic studies program in city high schools violates state law. The ruling backs a determination by controversial state Schools Superintendent John Huppenthal that the program is illegal under a new law banning educational programs that promote ethnic solidarity and provoke "racial resentment." Administrative law Judge Lewis Kowal shot down a school board challenge to Huppenthal's determination by ruling that the program teaches material in a "biased, political and emotionally charged manner," reports the Arizona Daily Star. Kowal's determination is a legal recommendation to Huppenthal, who will likely now take steps to dismantle the program. "The main game here is ensuring that students are getting a quality education, and that's not happening in Tucson Unified," Huppenthal said. "This whole issue has been a sideshow. I'm anxious to get to the main mission and put this distraction to the side."

It's uncertain what steps the Tucson school board will take if Huppenthal moves to shut down the program. Huppenthal's earlier determination that the program violates state law is already being challenged in federal court by Tucson teachers, reports the Los Angeles Times. Kowal's declaration "confirms what we already knew the state of Arizona wants to do, which is shut down Mexican American studies," said an attorney representing the teachers. "That's why we're in federal court."

Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal announces that the Tucson Unified School District violates state law by teaching it's Mexican American Studies Department's ethic studies program at a news conference at the Arizona Department of Education Wednesday, June 15, 2011, in Phoenix.
Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal announces that the Tucson Unified School District violates state law by teaching it's Mexican American Studies Department's ethic studies program at...   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Protesters demonstrate against Tuscon schools superintendent John Huppenthal earlier this year as he announces that schools are violating state law by teaching Mexican American ethic studies.
Protesters demonstrate against Tuscon schools superintendent John Huppenthal earlier this year as he announces that schools are violating state law by teaching Mexican American ethic studies.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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