This is what I don’t understand about the new Arizona law to ban ethnic studies (said to be aimed at primarily one program in Tucson public schools).
Is Chicano Studies or whatever it is called taken only by Hispanics or do all students take it or is at least open to all students?
(Please see Add 2 at the bottom of this post)
When I went to college I was required to take an ethnic studies class. As it turned out, I took Black History. I am white. I believe the whole idea of the class was not to promote black pride but to inform white boys like me (as well as minorities) about the history of blacks in America. The emphasis in the class as I recall was on the law, to include Supreme Court decisions, and the civil rights movement. The class was taught by a black man from Africa.
I see nothing wrong with ethnic studies being required, particularly if the idea is to let us whites know about the struggles of other ethnic groups, but it is a whole different ball game if ethnic minorities (or ethnic group members, minority or not) are taking separate classes about their own ethnicity at the expense of accepted U.S. History and national unity. I never thought that ethnic studies were intended to promote race pride at the expense of American patriotism.
I read several stories about this current situation but have not yet gotten in straight what is or was going on in Tucson.
It is true that U.S. History as taught in the past concentrated primarily on the perspective of those of white European descent, but then again that is our history — you can’t change that. But ethnic studies requirements have or were designed to give us all a fuller picture of history and a better appreciation that this nation has attempted to overcome racism and ethnic strife that has not only caused problems in America but continues to cause upheaval all over the world.
But again, if the idea of the Tucson program was to use public education dollars to promote the pride of one race, that does not seem wise or right. But if it is open to or required of all as a needed supplement to standard U.S. History, I would not think that should be outlawed.
ADD 1: (May 13, 2010)
A friend and former boss of mine turned me onto the fact that columnist Dough MacEachern of the Arizona Republic newspaper has written extensively on this subject, so I am going to try to read up on this for more info. If you’re interested you could google: ethnic studies, MacEachern, Arizona Republic.
ADD 2: From what I have now read since beginning this post, the ethnic studies program in Tucson schools has been put together and run by people who some might regard as left-wing activists. Just as having history written by white European ethnocentrists can have a misleading effect on the truth (what we should all be after, the truth, that is), so can history slanted another way. I’d say: let’s be objective and pile on the facts and have discussion, but leave out the slant (well possibly except as needed for some good old fahioned patriotism — you have to believe in something good about your country). I have also now read in an article from the Christian Science Monitor that the ethnic studies classes are supposedly open and attended by students of ethnic groups other than the ones under study. And it notes that the Tucson district is 56 percent Hispanic in enrollment.
I know there have been charges that the Tucson program promoted racial strife. Well of course that would be wrong, but the program could be changed to do away with that I am sure.