Yesterday, U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima ruled that students in Arizona had a constitutional right to have Mexican-American studies as part of their curriculum. That’s right, Judge Tashima ruled that a ban against Mexican-American studies, imposed by former state education leaders Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, was racist and fueled by their politics.
The ruling is a win for students in Arizona, including Mexican-American students denied an education about their own history and culture.
“Additional evidence shows that defendants were pursuing these discriminatory ends in order to make political gains. Horne and Huppenthal repeatedly pointed to their efforts against the MAS program in their respective 2011 political campaigns, including in speeches and radio advertisements. The issue was a political boon to the candidates,” Tashima wrote.
The case against Mexican-American studies (MAS) first began in 2012, after the Tucson Unified School District said the Mexican-American studies program was teaching students that white people were oppressive to minorities.
Students and teachers sued, saying it was their First Amendment right to have this program as part of their curriculum. The Huffington Post notes that lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed Arizona Republicans “violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment” because they only targeted Mexican-American studies (MAS) classes in one Latino-heavy district.
As news of the verdict came out, people on Twitter celebrated the victory.
— Curtis Acosta (@CurtisAcostaLLP) August 23, 2017
Curtis Acosta, one of the teachers banned from teaching MAS in his classrooms, tweeted “Justicia!”
“We won on all points,” Richard Martinez, one of six lawyers defending the students, said to The Huffington Post. “It speaks to the importance of the judiciary and protecting everyone against racial discrimination.”
Horne, one of the defendants who claimed the MAS program taught students hatred of white people, said this ruling “divides students by race and promotes ethnic chauvinism.” He added: “[I]t is a fundamental American ideal that we are all individuals, entitled to be judged by our knowledge and character, and not by what race we happen to have been born into,” Horne said in a statement, according to ABC News.
Huppenthal, the other defendant in the case, told ABC News that he was “not surprised by the ruling” and that it was “meaningless because the law is not likely to be enforced in the future.”
“The concern about what was going on in those classes was very real,” Huppenthal said, and added that he’s worried if “they crank up all that stuff of teaching students that Caucasians are oppressors of Hispanics.”
Whether a new MAS program will be implemented is unknown, but for now, people will celebrate this victory.
— Zinn Ed Project (@ZinnEdProject) August 23, 2017
Click here to read Judge Tashima’s ruling.