Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Republican statewide officials hold schoolchildren hostage over ethnic studies

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – The actions of Attorney General Tom Horne and Superintendent John Huppenthal are nothing more than political opportunism against Arizona’s schoolchildren when there are more pressing state issues like protecting the education budget, fighting for the rights of our children and protecting vulnerable citizens in these difficult times.

“What we are seeing here is political bullying by elected officials holding schoolchildren and a Tucson school district hostage by withholding education dollars as ransom,” said Tucson Senator Paula Aboud, incoming Senate Minority Whip.

Immediately before leaving office as Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne (and newly elected Superintendent John Huppenthal) targeted TUSD and students by threatening to withhold education funds from the school district as a retaliatory action towards the THS students who committed an act of disobedience towards the Superintendent. This attempt, along with Senate President Russell Pearce’s attack on minority children’s status as legal citizens, is nothing more than political bullying by Arizona’s Republican officials.

“The attempts are mean-spirited,” said Senator Paula Aboud, a graduate of TUSD and Tucson High School, both of which are targets of this outrageous attempt to punish Tucson. “Even new Superintendent of Instruction John Huppenthal is joining in the attacks on Arizona’s schoolchildren, which is exactly the opposite role of a school superintendent whose job is to assist students in furthering their education.”

“During the Senate hearing on the ethnic studies bill, Superintendent Tom Horne did not provide one shred of evidence against Tucson Unified School District’s ethnic studies program,” said Aboud. “These actions by Republicans are outrageous!”

For several years, TUSD and over 20 educators have upheld the ethnic studies program as a success to Aboud. Neither statewide official has offered evidence to the contrary. Instead, Horne pushed to change state law without ever stepping foot into a TUSD ethnic studies classroom.

ARS 15-112 (HB 2281) bans school districts or charter schools from including in instruction any of the following:

1. Promote the overthrow of the United States government.

2. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.

3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.

4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

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