By Julianne Hing
Last week, Arizona state superintendent John Huppenthal ruled that the high school Mexican American Studies courses offered in the Tucson School District violated last year’s HB 2281, which prohibited school districts from offering courses that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government;” promote resentment toward a race or class of people;” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group” or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” The Tucson School District responded by calling for an administrative hearing to challenge Huppenthal’s ruling, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
Huppenthal, who replaced Arizona’s new attorney general, Tom Horne, as state superintendent this year, ruled that Tucson violated the last three provisions of the law, and would therefore face reduced funding for flouting the state law. Under Huppenthal’s orders, Tucson has 60 days to shut down or revise the program, or face losing ten percent of its state education funds. However, the results of an independently run audit ordered by Huppenthal, and conducted by a company that Huppenthal selected, were released the very next day. The auditors found that the very same program is legal. The audit even concluded, “no observable evidence was present to suggest that any classroom within Tucson Unified School District is in direct violation of the law [Arizona Revised Statutes] 15-112(A).”
“Huppenthal had already made his mind up, and even though [audit company] Cambium was the company that he hired and he and his administration chose, when the audit didn’t come back his way, he still had largely decided already what he was going to do,” said Deyanira Nevarez, the project director and spokesperson of Save Ethnic Studies, a Tucson-based group organized to fight the Arizona ethnic studies ban.
Nevarez said that the contradiction between Huppenthal’s ruling and the findings of the audit only confirmed what ethnic studies program supporters had been saying all along—that the effort to shut down the program was political.
“He is completely lying about the program being illegal, and there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason as to how he made the connections.”
For more on the subject, see Ethnic Studies "Undermine Sovereignty"? and Whites Feel Like a Minority.