Arizona's public schools would be banned from supporting groups like the Black Business Students Association and the Asian Student Association under an amendment approved last week by a legislative committee. The amendment was tacked onto a homeland security bill in order to ban publicly funded schools from supporting groups that "denigrate, disparage or overtly encourage dissent from the values of american democracy and western civilization." That's great and all, because we love western civilization and American values, but instead of telling us what exactly those values might be, the amendment imposes a blanket ban on supporting any group based on race.
The brainchild of Rep. Russell Pearce, the measure appeared as an amendment to Senate Bill 1108, which originally would have made minor changes to the state's Homeland Security advisory councils. The House Appropriations Committee approved the new proposal on a 9-6 vote.Though the amendment escaped the House Appropriations Committee, it is unclear whether it will be killed by the full House or the Senate.
Pearce, a Mesa Republican, said his target isn't diversity instruction, but schools that use taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate students in what he characterized as anti-American or seditious thinking. The measure is at least partially a response to a controversy surrounding an ethnic-studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, which critics have said is unpatriotic and teaches revolution.
SB 1108 states, "A primary purpose of public education is to inculcate values of American citizenship. Public tax dollars used in public schools should not be used to denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization."
For schools that violate the anti-Western-teachings provision, the bill provides the state superintendent of public instruction with the authority to withhold a portion of state funding.