Arizona's new immigration law is just about crime, its supporters say, but given that the state's new education policy equates ethnic studies programs with high treason, they may not be using the commonly accepted definition of "crime."But what counts as an "accent"? Everybody has an accent! Who gets to decide? Guess they're going to have to fire all English teachers.
Under the ban, sent to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer by the state legislature Thursday, schools will lose state funding if they offer any courses that "promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."
As ThinkProgress notes, the Tucson Unified School District's popular Mexican-American studies department is the target here. The state superintendent charges that the program exhibits "ethnic chauvinism."
Meanwhile, in a move that was more covert until the Wall Street Journal uncovered it, the Arizona Department of Education has told schools that teachers with "heavy" or "ungrammatical" accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes.
As outlined by the Journal, Arizona's recent pattern of discriminatory education policies is ironic -- and is likely a function of No Child Left Behind funding requirements -- given that the state spent a decade recruiting teachers for whom English was a second language.
As for the ban against ethnic studies, just look at that phrasing: promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals. Nice touch, wouldn't you say, classing resentment of inequality and injustice and ethnic pride with high treason? Since just about any discussion of race, gender, class, or ethnicity is likely to be deemed "promoting resentment"-- hell, any mention of it-- that wipes out just about all social studies. Certainly mentioning, say, the Goldman Sachs hearings must be held to do that, too, so there goes current events. (Or do they still teach that?) In fact, I'm wondering how it's possible to teach history or civics or social studies or economics without running the risk of "promoting resentment."
But also? If courses aren't "designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group," then they can't be designed for WASPS, either. Or boys. Or heterosexuals. Or Christians. Now just how are teachers going to pull off designing a course that's not meant for middle-class white boys without at the same time not talking about race, ethnicity, class, sex, or gender? Seems an impossible task. (One not even Texas is demanding of its curriculum.) I'm sure I couldn't do it. But the real question's got to be: is there anyone who can? Guess a lot of people should start preparing suits against that law, too.
Teaching K-12 has seldom been a picnic. But it seems to be getting harder and harder for teachers to cope with politicians' interference in the classroom.