Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ethnic Studies and the Power of Ideas

We blogged earlier about Arizona's new law which is designed to suppress ethnic studies. Will Arizona be successful in this effort to eliminate ideas? It seems unlikely. Richard Delgado has recently observed that "ideas are not easy to kill" and that "education is an inherently destabilizing force that cannot readily be contained." (Liberal McCarthyism and the Origins of Critical Race Theory, 94 Iowa law Review 1505, 1544 (2009)). Arizona is finding this out. Instead of suppressing the ideas that ethnic studies generates, Arizona's new law has created greater interest in such studies and the number of students who are enrolled in such programs has almost doubled this year in Tucson, Arizona. (Mary Ann Zehr, Education Week, Tucson Students Aren't Deterred By Ethnic Studies Controversy, http://www.edweek.org/login.html?source=http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/09/22/04ethnic_ep.h30.html&destination=http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/09/22/04ethnic_ep.h30.html&levelId=1000).


  1. The same as banning a film or book, stifling an idea and a curriculum generates interest. Good for Tucson!

  2. DoreenR FIU

    This is a very unfortunate example of politicians taking their agendas to the extreme so that they are played out in our kid’s schools. The Arizona legislature bans an ethnic studies program and sets forth 4 key goals:

    Prohibit programs of study 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.
* Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

    With the exception of point 3, the legislature’s goals seem reasonable enough. I don’t want my tax dollars used to teach children to resent others or the government. What exactly is the problem with point 3 though? The government benefits by having an educated population. Kids are more likely to learn in an environment that is conducive to their learning styles and needs. Further, kids are most interested when a subject is relatable. The legislature’s efforts are an obvious pretense to suppress Mexican American culture.

  3. The Arizona law seems to be consistent with other legislature to erase any remnant of ethnic identity. Arizona fails to realize that many of the issues in the US society stem from lack of understanding of its cultures and this naive concept that there is "one" American culture. America is composed of various cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. History is often told from the perspective of the empowered. How is this restriction on education (via banning on ethnic studies) any different from what is done in a communist regime? It is simply a systematic ideological control of the masses and a means to maintain the status quo.

    Tishana W. (FIU)


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