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MALDEF Sends Open Letter To AZ Governor


 

LOS ANGELES, CA –  MALDEF Director of Litigation Cynthia Valenzuela Dixon has sent to Governor Jan Brewer an open letter urging Governor Brewer to veto the proposed House Bill 2281 (HB 2281).  The legislation would have a chilling effect on important academic freedoms in Arizona schools that continue to educate students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds about the contributions made by different groups to our collective American history.

 

MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz said, “This bill was born of a desire by certain elected officials to engage in race-tinged mischief, not out of a need to address any existing problem in Arizona school curricula.  HB 2281 is irresponsible lawmaking.  We urge Governor Brewer to avoid further dividing Arizona and to veto HB 2281.”

 

Eva Longoria Parker, actress, activist and a graduate student of Chicano Studies, added, “Education is the cornerstone of the American dream and multiculturalism is at the heart of the American experience.  Each state has a responsibility to provide its students with the best education about the diversity of our great nation to prepare them to succeed in our global economy.  States that punish schools for teaching about the diversity of cultures in our nation and world will only hurt our children.”

 

While HB 2281 threatens severe financial sanctions against schools with programs that “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 treatment of pupils as individuals”, the danger is that the proposed law would be misapplied to lawful and academically sound ethnic studies programs that promote respect for all cultures, are open to all students regardless of race or ethnicity and value inclusivity and diversity.  Courts have acknowledged the importance of  these types of  ethnic studies programs. Yet HB 2281 would allow the State Board of Education or the Superintendent of Public Instruction the discretion to misapply the law and sanction worthwhile, multi-cultural academic programs. 

 

MALDEF urges Governor Brewer to protect opportunities for cultural education, American history, and academic freedom of Arizona students.  MALDEF urges Governor Brewer to veto HB 2281.

 

“Ethnic studies programs provide an invaluable and irreplaceable opportunity for students to learn about not only the differences between racial and ethnic groups, but also about the similarities that bring us all together.  Any effort to keep our students in the dark about the worthy historical accomplishments and contributions of ethnic minorities should be vigorously opposed.  If Arizona’s HB 2281 becomes law, then ethnic studies programs will be severely undermined,” stated Gilberto Cárdenas, Assistant Provost and Director of the Institute of Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and MALDEF Board Member.

 SEE LETTER HERE


 

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization.  Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.

 

 

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