E pluribus unum, and not the other way around
The Gadfly and Fordham have forever embraced multiculturalism: All students should learn about the history (and cultures) of all Americans. Standard U.S. history courses should recount the good and bad chapters of our nation’s past, helping our young people understand the origin of our high ideals as well as ways we’ve fallen short of them, our triumphs as well as our sins, and the stories of all peoples, from whites to blacks to Latinos to Native Americans and onward. But we cannot condone courses designed for students from one ethnic group about the history of said group alone. African American-studies courses just for African Americans? Latino-studies courses just for Latinos? Count us out. That’s why we were disappointed (if not surprised) when the New York Times editorial page condemned a new Arizona law that bans such courses for “inject[ing] nativist fears directly into the public school classroom.” Currently at issue are the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American-studies courses, in which, according to some reports, including one from a former teacher of the program, the students are taught that “the United States was and still is a fundamentally racist country in nature.” It’s hard to know from afar if these courses do in fact cross the line, but it’s completely appropriate—and not at all “nativist”—for states to ensure that their public schools don’t teach hate, divisiveness, or an ideology of victimization.
“Tom Horne: Tucson Unified School District runs afoul of ethnic studies law,” by Mark K. Reinhart, Arizona Republic, January 3, 2011.
“Arizona, in the Classroom,” by the editorial board, New York Times, January 16, 2011.
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