The second of the two main forces behind an Arizona law banning a controversial Mexican-American Studies curriculum admitted defeat in his bid for reelection as the state’s Attorney General this week.
Attorney General Tom Horne -- plagued by a campaign finance investigation, rumors of an extra-marital affair and a hit-and-run car accident -- lost the GOP primary to Mark Brnovich. The defeat in Tuesday’s election, which Horne did not conceded until the following day, came in the same round of primary elections on Tuesday that ousted the state Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal, the other major figure behind the fight against Mexican-American studies.
Horne faces several investigations over allegations that he broke election and campaign finance laws, according to the Arizona Republic.
Brnovich is an immigration hardliner who opposes “amnesty” and said on the campaign trail that he’d support outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision to withhold driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Before serving as attorney general, Horne headed the state school system as superintendant of Public Instruction, where he led a conservative-backed effort to ban a Mexican-American studies curriculum at Tucson schools.
An independent audit and education researchers credited the program with developing critical thinking schools and boosting student achievement. But Horne said the courses, which focused on controversial issues like racism and socioeconomic inequality and widely used books written by Latino authors, bred resentment against whites.
The Arizona legislature passed a bill in 2010 banning courses that promote the overthrow of the government, foster ethnic solidarity or are aimed at people of a specific ethnicity. The following year, John Huppenthal, who replaced Horne as head of the state school system, declared Tucson out of compliance with the law and threatened to withhold 10 percent of the city’s education budget unless it discontinued the classes. Tucson Unified School District’s board voted to cancel the classes in December of 2011.
Students of the banned classes have filed a lawsuit challenging the ethnic studies law which has been appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.