Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Statement from Sen. Steve Gallardo on Ethnic Studies report

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Today, Superintendent John Huppenthal released a report which claims that the Tucson Unified School District ethnic studies program violates state law.

“The release of this report culminates a multi-year effort by Superintendent John Huppenthal and Attorney General Tom Horne to ban the Tucson Unified School District ethnic studies program before either stepped foot into a classroom,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo. “Here is a program that focuses on quality education and achieving academic success, yet the state education chief is against it?”

HB 2281 (A.R.S. 15-112), signed into law in 2010, bans school districts or charter schools from including in instruction any of the following:
1. Promote the overthrow of the United States government.

2. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.

3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.

4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

“The legislation is so broad and vague that a ban of this program denies students their first amendment right of having open academic discussions,” said Gallardo. “What is the definition of resentment?”

A violation of the statute would result in the withholding of ten percent of state education aid from the district.

“HB2281 is a politically motivated overreach of local control that was never about helping students to better themselves academically or about historical accuracy,” said Gallardo. “It is unconscionable that the state spent an estimated $170,000 on this audit, especially at a time when school districts are forced to lay off teachers due to budget cuts.”

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