Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies


In 2010, the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature passed HB 2281, which targeted Mexican American Studies classes in the Tucson School District. It banned all classes alleged to “promote the overthrow of the United States government” or “promote resentment toward a race or class of people” and classes “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group” that “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

In January 2012, the Tucson School District voted to cut the Mexican American Studies program in compliance with the new law after state superintendent Tom Horne threatened to withhold $15 million of the district’s funding. Horne said ethnic studies programs “are designed to promote ethnic chauvinism” and referred to supporters of the Mexican American Studies program as “‘Bull Connors.’ They are resegregating.”

In addition to cancelling the course, the school district removed several books from its classrooms, including Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 YearsPedagogy of the Oppressed, and The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Administrators advised Mexican American Studies teachers to avoid teaching any units that raised “race, ethnicity, and oppression as central themes.”