Judge: Arizona Education Dept. Cannot Enforce Ban on Ethnic Studies

Judge Wallace Tashima
Screenshot from YouTube video by DiscoverNikkei

A federal judge prohibited the Arizona Department of Education from enforcing a  2010 law that bans ethnic studies.

The Arizona Revised Statutes Title 15-112 prohibits any school district or charter school in the state from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that:

  • Promote the overthrow of the United States government
  • Promote resentment toward a race or class of people;
  • Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group; or
  • Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individual

One of the programs affected by the law was Mexican-American Studies program of Tucson Unified School District. In 2010, immediately after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer approved the law, Mexican-American students in Tucson filed a lawsuit.

The Arizona law is racist

On Wednesday, U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima issued his final ruling on the case. Judge Tashima ruled that the Arizona law violated student’s constitutional rights.”

In August, Judge Wallace ruled that racism and political gain motivated state officials to enact and enforce the law. He reiterated his ruling this week and prohibited the Arizona Education from enforcing the law.

Richard Martinez, the lawyer representing the Mexican-American students in Tucson, is happy with the court’s decision.

According to Martinez, “Everyone is very pleased to bring this eight-year challenge to closure in such a positive way.” He added that Arizona public school students will now be able to take classes on history and literature. They will learn that “they too are part of the rich American fabric.”

Arizona Education Dept. disagrees with Judge’s ruling

The Arizona Education Department disagreed with the ruling of Judge Wallace.

In a statement, its Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas expressed disappointment with decision in the case.

She said, “I am looking forward to a scheduled meeting with Legislative leadership next week. My first item on the agenda will be to see if we can find a legislative remedy to the judge’s ruling.”

Additionally, Douglas said, “I am supportive of teaching history and cultural studies, but I don’t understand why the Judge felt he needed to strike down the entire law.” According to her, the provisions preventing the use of taxpayer resources from offering classes that promote overthrowing the U.S. government or resentment towards a race should remain.