Arizona Legislature Passes Ban On Ethnic Studies – Boycott Grows
Seven days after passing its new anti-immigrant bill, the Arizona state legislature doubled down on its image, passing HB 2281 which cuts off funding for schools K-12 that offer ethnic studies as part of their curriculum. The law was written by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, who is seeking the Republican nomination for State Attorney General, and applies to all public and charter schools in Arizona.
The bill has not yet been signed by Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ), but Horne is confident she will. His assessment, “She and I have been at a lot of Republican meetings, and she agreed with me that this [ethnic studies] is outrageous.” Brewer has not commented on the bill or responded to Horne’s comments.
The bill is being criticized as another anti-Latino measure while Horne claims it is designed to foster diversity. The legislation came about in response to the Tucson school district’s practice of integrating Mexican-American studies into its K-12 curriculum, and targets, among other things, classes that are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity. Despite its admitted targeting of Mexican-American studies in Tucson, the law will impact education statewide and has the potential to affect all racially or ethnically sensitive classes for Arizona students.
The Arizona Boycott
Response to calls to boycott Arizona, its businesses and products in the wake of the state’s anti-immigration law continues to grow. At last count, 19 conventions involving over 15,000 hotel nights have been cancelled. Phoenix, until last week, had been on the short list for both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia predicted that, unless changed or repealed, Arizona’s immigration law “probably puts the kibosh on both party conventions.” Jahan Wilcox of the RNC says the law has not been part of their discussions. The 2008 Democratic convention brought $266 million in additional spending to the Denver area.
Pressure is also being exerted on Major League Baseball to change its venue for the 2011 All Star Game from Phoenix. A significant percentage of major league players are Latino. A move has also begun that brings into question the playing of college football’s BCS championship game in suburban Phoenix next year. Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the BCS, declined comment on whether the BCS was discussing revoking their commitment or changing venues. A variety of performing artists are rumored to be considering cancelling Arizona concert dates, though none has yet made an official announcement.
Phoenix Deputy City Manager, David Krietor, says the city is in danger of losing “tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars” in business because of boycott efforts. He went on to describe the situation as “an economic development nightmare.” Adding to the woes of city leaders, the National Urban League on Friday removed Phoenix from its list of potential sites to host its 2012 annual conference. And none of this takes into account private individuals cancelling Arizona trips and vacations. Nor does it account for cities, counties, states and private business who have instructed employees to cancel all business trips to Arizona.
Governor Jan Brewer, pictured above, continues to downplay both the boycott and Arizona’s emerging racist image as unwarranted “hysteria.” She had previously predicted that boycott efforts would have no significant impact on Arizona’s economy, a prognostication that now appears to be somewhere between premature and wishful thinking.
Cross posted at Elijah’s Sweete Spot, where COMMENTS/DISCUSSION are Disqus(tm) enabled.