11/04/2014 11:11 am ET Updated Nov 04, 2014

Lawsuit Against Mexican-American Studies Ban Gets A Court Date


The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Jan. 12 in a lawsuit against Arizona officials who eliminated a controversial Mexican-American Studies curriculum from public schools in Tucson.

The lawsuit, brought by students of the former classes, contends the law used to ban the classes was vague and unconstitutional.

A federal judge largely upheld the law last year.

A small group of mostly Latino teachers developed courses at Tucson Unified School District that focused on race and socioeconomic issues primarily from a Mexican-American perspective. A state-commissioned audit said the courses fostered critical thinking skills and recommended expanding them.

But many conservatives, led by then-Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne and then-state Sen. John Huppenthal, said the classes fostered ethnic division and resentment against whites in the majority-Hispanic school district.

In 2010, the Arizona legislature passed H.B. 2281, which outlawed classes that teach the overthrow of the government, foster ethnic solidarity or treat students as members of a group rather than individuals.

Facing the threat of losing 10 percent of its budget -- some $14 million over the fiscal year -- the Tucson Unified School District’s board voted in January 2012 to eliminate the courses.

Neither of the officials who spearheaded the law will hold public office as of next year. Huppenthal, who during his reelection campaign was outed as an Internet troll who called for the banning of the Spanish language, lost in primary challenge.

Horne -- whose reelection campaign for attorney general was plagued by a campaign finance investigation, rumors of an extra-marital affair and a hit-and-run car accident -- also failed to overcome a primary challenge.



Latino Books Once Banned In Arizona