Ariz. Officials May Prosecute Students Fighting for Ethnic Studies

Arizona's Attorney General says that young, impressionable kids are being influenced by rebel-rousing teachers.

By Julianne Hing Apr 29, 2011

On Tuesday nine Tucson students shut down a district board meeting in a coordinated public action to protest attacks on the district’s threatened ethnic studies program. Now, they’re facing possible criminal charges, and more predictably, the continued ire of anti-ethnic studies bully Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.

"I think this illustrates what the students are being taught in the ethnic studies class," said Horne, Phoenix’s KTVK reported. "They’re teaching them to be disruptive, instead of using freedom of speech to talk to each other and listen to each other."

"These are young impressionable kids, they’re influenced by their teachers, I mean they didn’t learn this behavior, I believe their parents taught them to be polite," Horne said, Phoenix’s KSAZ reported.

As Arizona’s state superintendent, Tom Horne singled out Tucson’s successful Mexican-American studies program for elimination, until after years of bullying he got HB 2281 passed as law last year, which outlawed any public school course which "advocated the overthrow" of the U.S. Horne admitted at the time HB 2281 was a bald attack on district’s ethnic studies program. On his last day as superintendent, he ruled that Tucson was violating HB 2281 by offering its Mexican-American studies courses. (The district also offers African-American and Native-American courses.) As Arizona’s attorney general now, Horne continues his attacks on the program.

Now, the district is looking into whether or not to file charges against the students.

"It is the position of school administration that this was an unlawful act which interfered with the effective operation of the school district," said Tucson Unified’s board president John Pedicone told reporters.

"As a result, videos of the incident are being reviewed by district personnel and law enforcement to determine if there is a violation of the law and whether prosecution is warranted."

On Tuesday night, the school board was set to discuss a proposed resolution to strip the district’s Mexican-American studies program of its accredidation so that courses that used to satisfy core history requirements could only be taken as electives. But the meeting never happened. Just as the meeting was set to begin, nine students stormed the dais and chained themselves to the board members’ chairs, fighting off security guards the whole while. Protesters filled the room and began chanting: "Our education is under attack, what do we do? Fight back!"

The meeting was postponed, but students vowed to keep up the pressure to defend their classes. The district has since rescheduled the meeting for May 5.