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Posted Jan 24, 2012, 5:30 pm
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Tucson, sent a letter Monday to federal education officials asking for an investigation into whether state law violates national standards in targeting TUSD's Mexican American Studies program, his office announced Tuesday.
Grijalva, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' education task force, sent the letter to Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Russlyn Ali and others in the Departments of Education and Justice.
In the letter, co-signed by CHC Chairman U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzales, D-Texas, Grijalva wrote: “Using the law to attack the MAS Program, with its proven educational successes, will only serve to exacerbate the already harmful anti-Latino sentiment in Arizona. We urge you in the strongest terms possible to open an investigation of ARS 15-112 and to ensure state compliance with federal law.”
ARS 15-122 prohibits schools from allowing classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, are created for students of a particular ethnic group or that advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of students as individuals.
A provision in the law allows state Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal to withhold 10 percent of a district’s state funding if he determines a district violates the law.
“This is not about one group of people wanting special treatment,” Grijalva wrote. “This is about a successful educational program with a high graduation rate being shut down for purely ideological reasons.
"Public education isn’t supposed to be politicized in this country, but that’s exactly what’s happened in Southern Arizona and the students are losing out because of it. The Department of Education would do a great public service by conducting a full and fair investigation into whether this power grab is authorized under federal law,” the letter states.