Target: Diane Douglas, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction
Goal: Don’t take funds away from the Tucson Unified School District for offering a course about hip-hop
A school district in Arizona might be faced with a loss of funding because it allegedly violates the state’s ban on ‘ethnic studies’ by offering a class about hip-hop from an African-American perspective. Superintendent, Diane Douglas (R), who has close ties to some conservative organizations, is expected to pursue this case against the school district. Please join us in calling on Douglas and demanding that this school district not be punished for teaching classes about a variety of cultures.
A law passed in Arizona in 2010 bans certain types of classes that constitute ‘ethnic studies.’ The ban includes coursework that promotes ‘resentment toward a race or class of people’ or ‘ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals,’ and that is ‘designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.’ The general language in the law can be used to prevent any classes that feature critical analysis of racism, and can force educators to avoid discussing non-dominant cultures in their classes, including those of ethnic minorities and immigrants. Violating this law can cost a school up to 10 percent of its funding.
Schools should not be penalized for introducing their students to a variety of cultures and for discussing important issues like race. Ignoring race is not going to make racism go away, and intentionally ignoring certain parts of our society’s culture and history is discriminatory. Please tell Superintendent Douglas that this is unacceptable and that Arizona should promote these types of classes, not ban them.
Dear Superintendent Douglas,
I recently learned that you are planning to penalize the Tucson Unified School District for violating Arizona’s ban on ‘ethnic studies.’ Apparently, schools in this district violated the ban by offering classes about hip-hop from an African-American perspective. I urge you to drop this case against this district, and protect the schools’ freedom of expression and the students’ right to be represented in the curricula they are taught.
The law banning these types of classes is worded vaguely and can be used to prevent a lot of legitimate and important classes from being taught in schools. This can include representation of minorities’ cultures, important social and political issues, and critical analysis skills. Teaching students about hip-hop does not promote hatred or resentment, but diversity and acceptance. Please don’t start your time in office by limiting schools from teaching what is relevant to their students and from promoting diversity and critical analysis. Please don’t take funding away from the Tucson Unified School District for teaching about hip-hop, and instead encourage schools to develop curricula that represent all of their students.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ajari via Wikimedia Commons