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Why NCTE Supports Ethnic Studies Initiatives

Newest in the collection of NCTE position statements is the NCTE Position Statement in Support of Ethnic Studies Initiatives in K-12 Curricula. Listen to Ethnic Studies Task Force chair Iris Ruiz as she talks about the history of this statement and its importance.

The statement articulates a belief NCTE put into practice in January 2012 when it joined 32 other organizations to voice its support for the Mexican American Studies Program in the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona and against the removal of books from the program.

At the time, the state of Arizona, shortly after passing Senate Bill 1070, the law that caused NCTE to pull its 2012 convention out of Phoenix and relocate to Las Vegas, passed another law, House Bill 2281, which contained language prohibiting any courses that “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” With this new law the Arizona Department of Education ruled that the Tucson Unified School District had to dismantle its Mexican American Studies program and cease using what were considered “suspect” books or forego $15 million dollars in state aid annually. See the statement and some of the news about this event on the website of the National Coalition Against Censorship.

The cancelling of the course led to protests and ultimately to a law suit, Arce v. Huppenthal. NCTE signed on the Amicus Brief in support of Arce. Just this past summer the case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which issued a decision that, while a small win for Arce, returned a part of the lawsuit back to a lower court where, unfortunately, it will likely die. This program is still outlawed in Tucson.

Watch clips from Precious Knowledge, the documentary about the Tucson case.

Yet another reason why we need the NCTE Position Statement in Support of Ethnic Studies Initiatives in K-12 Curricula.