The state of Arizona has a long history of the struggle for minority groups to be recognized. Latino community had advocated for the inclusion of Mexican-American studies in the curriculum to teach students the Latino history. Mexican-American Ethnic studies were successful in improving the rate of Latino students graduating from high school. In praise of the Raza studies at Tucson Unified School District, Dr. Christine Steeler said the program had helped to close the gap between the “ achievement of white students and students of color” (Precious Knowledge 13). This is the backdrop the House Bill 2281 and Senate Bill 1070 were enacted, eliciting criticism from the Latino community. This paper will establish how the policies have affected the Latino community in Arizona.
The first bill to be enacted was the Senate Bill 1070. It elicited a lot of criticism from the Latino community because it targets people of the Mexican decent. Subsection B of the bill states in part; “ where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, where practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person” (1, 20-25). The bill then goes on to state in subsection E; “ A law enforcement officer, without a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States” (1, 37-39).
The State Senate Bill 1070 targets “ Latino persons and other immigrants of color” (Kunnie 16). The policy gives an officer of the law the power to arrest a person without a warrant. In addition, targeting aliens in Arizona is a disguise for the real intent of the bill, which is to target Latino persons. The proponents of the bill are afraid of the growing population of Mexican-Americans in Arizona. This has been met with immense criticism from Latino persons who view it as an exercise of the white race to control and intimidate people of color. The application of subsection B and E of the Senate Bill will, in large part, affect the Latino people more than any other race in Arizona.
However, SB1070 was laying the ground for a more profound bill that was going to affect the Latino community even more. The enactment of House Bill 2281, in May 2010, abolished Ethnic Studies that had helped teach history of the Mexican-Americans. HB 2281 subsection A states, in part, that no school will have in its program any course or class “ designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group” and “ advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals” (1, 14-15). Subsection E clause 3 gives a leeway to teach “ courses or classes that include the history of any ethnic group and that are open to all students” (2, 1-2). It goes on to indicate, in subsection F, that the policy should not be construed to prohibit instructions of “ the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on ethnicity, race, or class” (2, 8-9).
At the beginning of the “ Precious Knowledge” documentary, it is established that Mexican-American Ethnic Studies classes were open to all students (1. 16). Dr. Sleeter says, “ Ethnic studies rework education from the point of view of a group that has been minoritized group in the United States” (0-1). The ethnic studies, therefore, qualified to be taught at the school. The agitation and subsequent enactment of the policies acted to deter the performance of the Latino students. Kunnie wants “ the nature of white supremacy and its convoluted reasoning” to be interrogated (20). This “ white supremacy” has led to the interpretation of Raza Ethnic Studies as “ anti-American.” Statements such as “ you want different culture, go back to that culture, this is America” are clear indications that proponents of these policies do not construe Mexican-American culture to be American or worth to be taught in American schools (Precious Knowledge 31). The abolishment of the Ethnic studies at TUSD will only alienate Mexican-American students’ sense of belonging, leading to deteriorating performance.
Our writers will create one from scratch for
Kunnie, Julian. “ Apartheid in Arizona? HB 2281 and Arizona’s Denial of Human Rights of Peoples of Color.” The Black Scholar 40. 4 (2010): 16-26. Web.
Palos, Ari, dir. Precious Knowledge. Dos Vatos Productions, 2011. Film.