The House Bill 2281 is commonly referred as an ethnic studies law and was enacted in Arizona State after the Governor Jan Brewer officially signed it. This bill addresses the school curriculum and most noteworthy is the declaration policy which forms the backbone of the entire bill. It categorically postulates that pupils attending public schools should be accorded equal treatment and they should be taught to value each other in order to coexist harmoniously. At no point should they be made to resent each other or a category of persons. The enforcement of this law bans any form of instruction in District and charter schools that incite the toppling of the Government of the United States. In addition it prevents any form of racial resentment or negative attitude towards a particular group of people. Most controversial is the banning of classes designed for specific ethnic groups. The implication of this clause is the outlaw of ethnic studies for Hispanic and African American students. Moreover the law bans promotion of any form of ethnic solidarity and instead advocates treatment of students as unique individuals. Any charter or District school found contravening the law will have its financial aid from the department of Education withheld.
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There has been a public outcry following the enactment of this law.
Most people view it as a state attempt to intimidate immigrants and persons from minority groups in Arizona. It is a bad gesture to Latin Americans who will no doubt feel unappreciated after realizing the State's education system does not make any provision for them to study their cultural heritage. More than ever Latin Americans feel very unwelcome and foreign to the United States. This law is founded on totally wrong principles as it wrongfully implies that ethnic studies promote separatist views and racial discrimination. It is even more preposterous to imply that ethnic studies can incite students to revolt against the United States government (Calefati, 2010).
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The penalty of withholding financial aid from schools is too punitive and schools will not attempt to teach anything remotely close to ethnic studies. Teachers should be free to follow the teaching curriculum as opposed to having their hands tied for them to deliver their content effectively. This HB 2281 bill was therefore based on a faulty premise that postulates that ethnic studies are communitarian and seditious. Ethnic studies complement History studies by including the experiences of Americans and the civil right movement. In addition in ethnic studies there is a good blend of History and cultural studies resulting to a society that fully appreciates diverse cultures and thus more just and tolerant.
As opposed to promoting incitement towards the government, ethnic studies encourage healthy advocacy of social and civic engagement to address any wrongs being meted towards people. Instead of dividing, ethnic studies attempts to integrate the people of the United States by promoting interest in policy making and hence political participation. People are more aware of cultural diversity; acknowledge multiculturalism and individuals from different ethnic groups can coexist harmoniously.
This law is also a blow to the initiative of grouping students according to English fluency and academic performance. Immigrant and international students at times require special attention to bolster their language skills in English it's the media of communication in all learning institutions. In the light of the HB 2281 law, such an act may be deemed as according special treatment or even preference to a particular ethnic group. In addition the recruitment of bilingual teachers to assist non-native pupils might be discontinued. There is need to give special attention to disadvantaged students as it is the only way they will improve and catch up with their counterparts. It is simply unfair to perceive this as special treatment of a particular ethnic group. This bill therefore creates further discomfort amongst ethnic minority groups as they experience a feeling of suspicion and intolerance towards them (Shingavi, 2010).
It has emerged that the law's formulation was based on a political motive that was crafted and molded into educational reform. Tom Horne who happens to be the Public Instruction Superintendent at the State of Arizona does not approve of the Chicano study program undertaken by 3% of the student population. He feels that ethnic studies can turn students into radical people who can turn against the government. Civil rights activists have been known to air their political views in class and one was Dolores Huerta when she asserted that the Republicans detest Hispanics during one of her addresses. Politicians started looking at ethnic studies in a different light where they can be used as a tool to preach hatred and even lead to the overhaul of a government. This political motive prompted the formulation and enactment of the HB 2281 law to check on such dangers. Tom stated that the true American value system promotes individual value and ethnic studies are out of line as they champion for ethnic chauvinism.
I am totally against this law that appears to scrape ethnic studies especially with financial aid to schools being placed at stake.
Students will be limited to Native American and African American studies which are of great importance and interest. In Chicano studies we learn that Mexico extended all the way to Arizona and that some Mexican radicals had staged a claim of their land. Politicians should restrict their roles to national issues and policy making. They are not trained educators and are not fit to impose any teaching standards to teachers. This law came to pass after deliberation amongst politicians and opinions were not sought from teachers. In addition studies were not carried out to access the impact of ethnic studies on students. Politicians should look at the needs of students and act accordingly instead of being driven by selfish intentions like Tom Horne who reportedly aspires to be the attorney general for Arizona. He feels threatened that ethnic studies will create a culture of Hispanics detesting Republicans and this might hurt his political ambitions.
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