January 12, 2012
Students can sue their public school district for violating their First Amendment right by eliminating a radical La Raza studies program that ignites racial hostility, teaches disdain for American sovereignty and illegally segregates students by race.
Only in America would a federal judge rule that a U.S. taxpayer-funded institution can get sued for refusing to provide such a divisive program that one instructor denounced for igniting racial hostility. The case involves the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican Raza Studies program, nixed after state legislators banned funding for ethnic studies curriculums that advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government.
Tucson’s controversial La Raza curriculum was created in 1998 to promote the Chicano agenda. Years later it was renamed “Mexican-American Studies” to sound less extremist. In 2010 Arizona’s legislature passed a measure (HB 2281) banning taxpayer-funded schools from offering classes that are designed for students of a particular race and promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group (in this case whites).
A group of Tucson district teachers sued in federal court to keep the Chicano program, claiming that it would be unconstitutional to eliminate it because it would restrict free speech. In their complaint, the teachers said their free speech had been impermissibly infringed by the state. They further asserted that students who take the La Raza courses score higher on standardized tests, graduate from high school at higher rates, improve their overall grades and have better school attendance records.
A federal judge rejected the teachers’ claims, but this week ruled that students have a standing to sue the district for killing the La Raza studies program because they’ve made a “plausible showing of a First Amendment violation” based on allegations that “viewpoint-discriminatory criteria” are being used to remove texts and materials from the curriculum. The Clinton-appointed judge, A. Wallace Tashima, also said that “at some point in the future students may be able to make a stronger showing that irreparable harm is likely….” though they have not yet met the criteria.
The Tucson program first gained national attention when a Hispanic history teacher who taught in it denounced the curriculum’s biased theme that Mexican-Americans are victims of a racist American society driven by the interests of middle and upper-class whites. Kids were taught that the southwestern United States was taken from Mexicans because of the insatiable greed of the Yankee who acquired values from the corrupted ethos of western civilization, the teacher wrote in a newspaper opinion piece.
Students also learned that California, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Texas are really Aztlan, the ancient homeland of the Aztecs, and still rightfully belong to their descendants, people of indigenous Mexican heritage. Also, the former Tucson teacher said, students were told that few Mexicans took advanced high school courses because their “white teachers” didn’t believe they were capable and wanted to prevent them from getting ahead.
The curriculum engendered racial irresponsibly, demeaned America’s civil institutions, undermined public servants, discounted any virtues in western civilization and taught disdain for American sovereignty, according the teacher. He also revealed that many of the instructors who taught the courses were not certified to teach.