the circular runner

Linda Chavez and Arizona State Law 2281?

In observations, Uncategorized on June 2, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I was listening to Talk of the Nation–a show from May 24th–in which Linda Chavez, an education expert and a critic of Ethnic Studies, was debating with James Banks, a Diversity Studies professor at U of Washington. Both were arguing about the value of teaching US history in such a way that minorities were given their due for the roles they played in the creation of the country. After listening to the back and forth, it seemed that their argument had more to do with how to get to that well rounded approach to history than it did about any law. The Arizona law that bans Ethnic Studies at the middle and high school level seems as if it was created out of some misconception of what Ethnic Studies programs do, a misconception shared by Ms. Chavez in her Op/Ed piece in the Dallas Morning News (see link below). She believes that Ethnic Studies creates divisions among us–as if we needed any help on this front. People being who they are, there’s always some reason for division. Usually that reason has to do with ignorance about the other–something that Ethnic Studies could help ameliorate.

Though I take Chavez at her word that she supports the teaching of US history that includes minorities in the narrative, the reality is that this has not happened and probably won’t any time soon. This could be due to some fundamental deficiency in the system that does not put enough value on minorities and their role in the creation of our country. I’m not saying the system is racist necessarily; it could be that there’s just too much to teach in any given semester, or that the way history is taught would require such a change in approach and in textbooks that most school systems would not be able to comply. (I’m not going to try and guess why these changes in approach couldn’t be done; I’ll just accept the system as it is.) In the end, that’s what Ethnic Studies does. It helps make up for the hole in the way history has been taught in the imperfect educational system that we have inherited. I don’t think Ethnic Studies proponents want to do away with US history departments; I really think they just want to supplement them. So why is this such a problem?

Here’s the link to Chavez’ piece


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