The Los Angeles Board Calls For Teaching Students About the Arizona Law — Denounced As “Un-American”

The Los Angeles Unified School District school board has announced that all public school students will be taught about Arizona’s new immigration law. Members, however, appear to want the law taught as an example of an un-American and racist law. In a unanimous vote, the board has asked schools to incorporate the lesson as part of their civics classes. I agree with the board that this is an appropriate subject for discussion some classes, but (even as a critic of the law) I have serious concerns over teaching students that such a law is “Un-American.”

Recently, I was asked to review the decision of the Township High School in Illinois to bar travel to Arizona for the girl’s basketball championship. The decision was, in my view, based on flawed constitutional analysis and appeared more like a boycott — a political decision. I have the same concerns here. There are obviously parents who agree and disagree with this law. Indeed, over sixty percent of people polled support the law and roughly half want their own states to adopt a similar law.

The concern is not over the merits of the law but the use of public schools to advance a political viewpoint. The Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to “express outrage” and “condemnation” of the law. That is arguably a legitimate expression from Board members. However, it went further to demand (as stated in a press release) that “[t]he Los Angeles Board of Education also requested that Superintendent Ramon Cortines ensure that civics and history classes discuss the recent laws with students in the context of the American values of unity, diversity and equal protection for all people.” That would also seem an appropriate lesson plan.

The controversy erupted over comments of the board members that accompanied these instructions. Board President Monica García explained the purpose behind this latter provision: “America must stand for tolerance, inclusiveness and equality. In our civics classes and in our hallways, we must give life to these values by teaching our students to value themselves; to respect others; and to demand fairness and justice for all who live within our borders. Any law which violates civil rights is un-American.”

School District spokesman Robert Alaniz further stated:

“The Board of Education directed the Superintendent to ensure that LAUSD civics and history classes discuss the recent laws enacted in Arizona in the context of the American values of unity, diversity, and Equal Protection for all. Much like a number of controversial periods and laws that are part of our history and are currently taught including:

— Slavery

— Jim Crowe laws and segregation

— Native American reservations

— Residential schools (for Native Americans)

— The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

— Anti-Irish racism in the 19th century

— Racism against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe in the 20th century

— Anti-Semitism

— Internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II

— The Mexican Repatriation Program (1929-1939).”

I have long supported schools incorporating such public issues into civics discussion to tie foundational principles to contemporary examples. Arizona’s law could make for some interesting debate and thought-provoking questions. However, only if it is taught in a neutral way and elicits discussion on both perspectives — not just opposition to the law. The message from the board appears to be that the classes should characterize the law as akin to racism and anti-Semitism. That would seem more like indoctrination than education.

This may not be the intention of the Board and it is important to note that the instruction itself did not include loaded or partisan language. However, the Board should issue clear guidelines for teachers to address the law in an even-handed way and to engage the students in a discussion of both sides of the controversy. Board members are free to denounce the law in their individual capacity, but these members would be presumably aggrieved if Arizona schools were instructed to teach that the law was the embodiment of all that is right and correct about America. Even the Administration (which is planning to challenge the law) has said that it does not view the law as racist. Los Angeles children should discuss the law not only on its merits but also as an example of how our political and judicial process addresses such controversies. There is a difficult line in teaching such subjects between ideology and education. However, when done correctly, it can be highly rewarding. I often take positions in my graduate classes that are diametrically opposed to views of my students to challenge them and to get them to consider alternative perspectives.

I assume that the Board was thinking along the same lines, but it should clarify the matter for teachers who are the “boots on the ground” for our educational system.

For the story, click here.

34 thoughts on “The Los Angeles Board Calls For Teaching Students About the Arizona Law — Denounced As “Un-American””

  1. roflol

    Thanks, Gyges. Having learned something new, my day is now complete. That would be the Greek vocabulary lesson by the way. I’m pretty sure it’s common knowledge by now Tootie is a bigot. Careful using the word “Greek” around ol’ Tootles though. There might be another sudden Tourette’s like outburst of homophobia.

    @Bneito

    Good post. Welcome aboard.

  2. Interesting parallel, the word barbarian was used by the Greeks to mean “anyone who is not Greek.” Centuries later we have Tootie using it to mean “anyone who is not white.”

  3. Then the LA schools should teach the same thing about US immigration law since Arizona’s is almost the same but somewhat more restrictive on LEOs.

  4. “All Men are created equal”! The founders had it right, when attempting to form a perfect union and they also knew that they were not there yet but knew we one day would get there. Lincoln moved us forward as did JFK and LBJ. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

    It is my contention that this AZ law is not constitutional and will fail when challenged (unless, of course, they keep adding more amendments), pretty funny for this so called perfect law, that many internet blogs claim it was copied “Word for Word” from the Federal law, which I frankly do not believe, if it was then no amendments would have been made, right?, of course.

    As for the undocumented workers, as was attributed to Ronald Reagan “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. When the economy is good we say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. This too will pass. The real problem is the narcos, arms and people smuggler that’s what the focus should be on.

    Don’t you find it funny that no one ever voted for Brewer for Governor, it’s all about politics and getting elected, do not be fooled. Busy Brewer has passed S.B. 1070, no permit conceal weapons law, the famous Birthers law, banning Ethic studies law, (could she be behind the Mural in Prescott, Arizona) and if history is a lesson she should look up Arizona’s House Bill 2779 from two years ago (which failed when legally challenged) and the craziest one the boycotted Martin Luther King Day, not wanting another holiday, how crazy is that. I believe there is an undercurrent to their enactment of new laws, they real love following a distinct pattern. Poor Brewer, last week, she first she said her Dad had died in Germany fighting the Nazi in World War II (war ended 1945) and we find out her father was never in Germany and died in California in 1955 (watch the spin doctors go into overdrive) and then she went to Washington and came back empty as always, poor dear.

  5. What they also need to discuss is the Constitution’s requirement that the feds provide a republican form of government and with foreign barbarians invading our borders and becoming political pawns, that is not possible.

    Then they need to discuss the debates over the 14th amendment which anticipated that such invaders are not “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” since they already have allegiance to foreign states.

    Then they need to discuss the legal definition of genocide, read the 1948 law, and determine if this invasion by foreigners perpetrated by criminally-minded officials in Washington rises to the level of genocide.

    Then they should discuss secession and the right of states to secede, especially when the federal government has become, as it is now, a mortal enemy to the people, and so much so that it has become “necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them…”

    Then I might believe this was a topic our soviet-style state government schools could handle with intelligence and honesty.

  6. because most of arizona’s manual labor is done by illegal aliens from finland.

    if new mexico adopts this law what will happen to the illegal aliens at area 51?

  7. This law isn’t just about Mexicans. It’s about all illegal aliens. How about California and Washington D.C. say they will take all these people from Arizona and turn them loose on their streets. I will bet that Obama dosen’t have the stomach for that. Why dosen’t California look at the federal law before whining about the Arizona law. Or better yet pass a law that anyone stopped or questioned by police does not have to provide or show any type of id. I will bet that if a foreginer came across the boarder and blewup LAX they would have a different tune. Cailfornia is broke the governer is a joke and the state government couldn’t find their way from the Arizona/Mexican border to California if you drew them a freaken map

  8. Chef, author and TV host Anthony Bourdain being interviewed about “being wrong” at Slate.com.

    As someone who’s been very outspoken about the role of immigrants and especially Latino immigrants in your own kitchens and in the American workforce, what do you think about the Arizona immigration law?

    You know, I’m a little—I mean, obviously I think it is wrong. I think it’s embarrassing and shameful. But I’m sympathetic to the blind rage, fear, and confusion of people who live close to the problem. I think they’re wrong, I disagree strongly, and I’m nauseated by the idea of demanding people’s papers in the streets. But I resist the urge to demonize the people from Arizona who feel that way. I believe that however you feel on whatever issue, we should always be able to sit down at a table together and have a few drinks—or a lot of drinks—and share a meal together. If the level of discourse has moved beyond our ability to do that, then everybody loses. I mean, I disagree with everything Ted Nugent says, but I like the guy a lot.

    Did you start feeling this way after sitting down to dinner with that the likes of that nice former KGB operative?

    No question about it. I mean, if I’m hanging out with ex-KGB guys and former hit men and headshrinkers and murderers, and I find them charming and I allow for cultural differences and end up having a great time and finding common ground, why the hell can’t I be friendly with Ted Nugent?

    If you could hear someone else being interviewed about wrongness, who would it be?

    Dick Cheney. And I’d like him to be water-boarded during the interview. ”

    I like this guy more every day.

    Most of the interview is about being wrong in the kitchen, on the road, and in life in general but you can read the rest at: http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/thewrongstuff/archive/2010/05/31/eat-your-words-anthony-bourdain-on-being-wrong.aspx

  9. I thought my brain was itchy for a non-alcoholic reason this morning, LK. Must have been that psychic connection. 😀

  10. BIL, LOL, we were writing our postings at the same time- great minds eh? Nice work-around to get rid of the exteranious links.

  11. I really wasn’t going to post to this thread because in general my disagreements with the Professors position are mere quibbles. But.

    But then I read this and I’m thinking maybe an exception needs to be made for Arizona children because it seems like way too many of the adults haven’t got the sense or decency to teach their children why racism is not a good thing.

    “Altered mural fuels racial debate in Prescott”

    “A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

    The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity. But the school’s principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure. …

    “We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” Wall said. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).” ”

    The rest of the article is just amazing too.

    The link is to Wonkette but there is a link to the Arizona paper that printed the story on Wonkette; the papers link contains hidden code that adds a bunch of other links to the posting and sends it to moderation hell:

    http://wonkette.com/415809/arizona-school-demands-black-latino-students-faces-on-mural-be-changed-to-white

  12. I really wasn’t going to post to this thread because in general my disagreements with the Professors position are mere quibbles. But.

    But then I read this and I’m thinking maybe an exception needs to be made for Arizona children because it seems like way too many of the adults haven’t got the sense or decency to teach their children why racism is not a good thing.

    “Altered mural fuels racial debate in Prescott”

    “A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

    The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity. But the school’s principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure. …

    “We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” Wall said. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).” ”

    The rest of the article is just amazing too.

    http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/06/04/20100604arizona-mural-sparks-racial-debate.html#ixzz0pyM3Fw9R

    Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/06/04/20100604arizona-mural-sparks-racial-debate.html#ixzz0pyLqSabR

    http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/06/04/20100604arizona-mural-sparks-racial-debate.html

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