Native Village 
Youth and Education News
May, 2013
Attorney General Tom Horne Wins Federal District Court Case Against Tucson Ethnic Studies Program
Condensed by Native Village

Arizona: A Federal District Court has ruled that Arizona's law prohibiting courses that teach ethnic solidarity is constitutional.  The case was personally argued by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horn.

“This is a victory for ensuring that public education is not held captive to radical, political elements and that students treat each other as individuals -not on the basis of the race they were born into,” Horne said in a statement.

The law resulted in cancellation of Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American Studies Program.  An independent Administrative Law Judge said the program presented material in a “biased, political, and emotionally charged manner.”

He also said, “Teaching in such a manner promotes social or political activism against the white people, promotes racial resentment, and advocates ethnic solidarity instead of treating peoples as individuals.”

The State law prohibits courses if they violate any of the prohibitions:

“Promote resentment toward a race or a class of people”,
“Are designed primarily for peoples of a particular ethnic group”,
“Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of peoples as individuals.”

The Court found the term, “designed primarily for peoples of a particular ethnic group” as unconstitutionally vague.

It held that Arizona's concern was to reduce racism, as set forth in a policy statute: “The legislature finds and declares that public school pupils should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not to be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.”

The Court found that the prohibitions in the statute are reasonably related to the goal of reducing racism at the schools. 

In a separate action, another Federal Law Judge issued a ruling that called for the development of culturally relevant courses. However, that Order also stated: “The State is free to enforce its laws as it did in 2011 when it took action against TUSD for Mexican-American Studies courses, if it believes any culturally relevant courses developed and implemented in TUSD violate state law.”

That Order has also been appealed by Attorney General Horne.

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