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Racism Drove Arizona’s Ban of Tucson Mexican-American Studies Program

Connecting to Community and Self Through Ethnic Studies

Last week, U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima ruled that the state of Arizona violated students’ 1st and 14th Amendment constitutional rights when they outlawed the Mexican-American Studies program in Tucson, Arizona,

“because both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus.”

“Additional evidence shows that defendants were pursuing these discriminatory ends in order to make political gains. Horne and Huppenthal repeatedly pointed to their efforts against the MAS program in their respective 2011 political campaigns, including in speeches and radio advertisements. The issue was a political boon to the candidates,” Tashima wrote (according to Tuscon.com).

At one point, John Huppenthal, a defendant in the case with Tom Horne, and both Arizona State Superintendents, wrote in his blog,

“No Spanish radio stations, no Spanish billboards, no Spanish TV stations, no Spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English.”

and

“The rejection of American values and the embracement of Mexico in La Raza classrooms is the rejection of success and the embracement of failure.”

This victory in court has been a long time coming. Teachers and students have been in and out of the courts since 2012, and NCTE has supported their efforts beginning when we signed on a statement protesting the dismantling of the program and the banning of the books in it.

The judge does still need to issue a final judgement in the case.