First Latino Studies Class Deemed Illegal in Arizona

At Tucson High Magnet School, almost all of teacher Curtis Acosta's students are Mexican-American. But Tom Horne, Arizona's newly elected attorney general (and former superintendent) says Acosta's Latino Literature class is "propagandizing and brainwashing." So, Horne declared the program in violation of a new state law that went into effect on January 1 that outlaws ethnic studies classes in the state of Arizona.

"They wrote a state law to snuff this program out, just us little Chicanitos," Acosta told the NY Times. "The idea of losing this is emotional."

His students are upset and for good reason. The new Arizona law can strip school districts that are found in violation of 10 percent of their state education funds. Offensive topics include any mention of the overthrow of the United States government, including any reference that states that used to be a part of Mexico should be returned to that country. Promotion of any race (beside White apparently) is also prohibited.

Though Horne declared that Tucson's Mexican-American program violated the new law and although the the district has 60 days to comply, he immediately called for the dissolution of the program. When asked about other ethnic-studies programs in Tuscon public schools, Horne insisted that only the Mexican-American program had received complaints.

Augustine F. Romero, director of student equity in the Tucson schools, summed it up beautifully. "There's a fierce anti-Latino sentiment in this state," he said. "These courses are about justice and equity, and what is happening is that the Legislature is trying to narrow the reality of those things. Who are the true Americans here—those embracing our inalienable rights or those trying to diminish them?"