Thursday, April 24, 2008


An old professor of mine sent me an email talking about some legislation that just passed the appropriations committee and is headed to the full House in Arizona called measure SB1108. It would ban public schools from teaching materials that "overtly encourage dissent" in regard to core American values. Another piece would bar teachings, or organizations affiliated with public schools, community colleges, or public universities that are "based in whole or in part on race-based criteria," I find this incredibly terrifying.

From what I have read in the emails that have been going back and forth as well as this article, the target appears to be a La Raza studies program that focuses on cultural history and instilment of pride in that history. Some of the texts used in the program have rubbed people the wrong way.

It is one thing to complain about a text or two used in a program and maybe even talk to the school to get those texts removed or to choose laternate texts. I’m not saying I think this is necessary in this case because I don’t have all the information, I haven’t read the texts, I don’t know about the student organization mentioned, and so I honestly can’t comment on their ethos. However, I certainly can comment on the implications that type of legislation could have statewide.

Imagine a world where the only culture allowed to be taught is the dominant culture. How fundamentally un-American is that? While the article states that teaching about cultures would be acceptable, “race-based” classes would not. I can just see Asian Studies, Diaspora Studies, Chicano Studies, etc. disappearing from Arizona’s public universities and it makes me want to cry.

The language is so vague. I think if you asked ten people what it means to "overtly encourage dissent" from the values of American democracy and Western civilization you would get ten different answers. Debates could come to a raging halt. Any sentiment of radical change or even not so radical change could be squashed out of the brains of many children and young adults. People could essentially be taught that everything single thing about America is right and good and I am certain that type of thinking will only do our country harm.

Since Mom guessed all the songs yesterday here are five new ones

1. Horses in my dreams/ Like waves like the sea/ They pull out of here/ They pull they are free

2. Oh here we go again/ It’s time for the same arguments about/ About that and a little bit of this

3. Moon Sammy walks/ Across the floor/ Below the floor/ There is a wall. Moon Sammy, Soul Coughing. Identified by Mom.

4. When apple leaves fall/ You may feel something in your mind’s eye/ When the earth drinks in squall/ You may plan to escape on the sly. Apple, Cibo Matto. Identified by Jamie

5. It’s coming on Christmas/ They’re cutting down trees/ They’re putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace. River, Joni Mitchell. Identified by Chatty Knitter.


Chatty Knitter said...

Number 5 is my all-time favorite Joni Mitchell song "River" off of her album Blue.

This is all pretty terrifying...but we reap what we sow in this country. I think we're a long way away from fully feeling the aftershock of 8 years of a W presidency and the arrogance his administration instilled in conservative (nay Fascist) head cases. Sucks for those of us who didn't endorse or support it, but that's democracy...I guess.


jamie said...

#4- apple by cibo matto

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

Shitsky. If Arizona's gonna ban documents that encourage dissent, let's start with the Declaration of Independence. But consider the source. Arizona's gov at the time opposed MLK Day.

Mom said...

And the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee currently represents this backward state in the Senate.

What I read, from your blog and the article referenced, is appalling. I'm sending a link to our relatives and family friends in Arizona. Thanks for letting us know. Members of a democracy must remain ever-vigilant against this kind of stifling of free discussion. (Hmm... seems to me that this bill would directly violate the First Amendment. Which, of course, a lot of people don't believe in anymore. Sigh.)

#3 is "Moon Sammy" by Soul Coughing.

dmarks said...

Sounds like just another thing to wreck public schools even more. Looks like the private schools are let off the hook on this.

I do, though, have a general problem with "a La Raza studies program that focuses on cultural history and instilment of pride in that history" if it means it is taught to Latino-types only. That creates division and "balkanization".

No, I'm not suggesting that such things be banned. Rather, I'd want to see them considered for teaching all kids. Rather than have tailor-made history and cultural pride education for different ethnic groups, strive for a diverse program that teaches all students these things.

Paw made a great point: the country was founded on dissent.

Anonymous said...

That is truly frightening.

Brooke said...

I forwarded this on to my friend Rachel, who is from Tuscon, and it turns out this potential horror is targeting her former school district. She sent the article you referenced to her father, who had this to say:

"No I didn't know about this, but a few comments:
1. Yes it's a completely terrible bill.
2. It has only been approved by an Arizona House committee. It still has to be passed by the full Arizona House and Senate.
3. I think it likely that Gov. Napolitano would veto the legislation if it did pass both the state House and Senate.
The Phoennix legislature is forever passing quack bills that never see the light of day."

That's slightly heartening, at least.