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How Does Arizona's New Law Affect What's Taught in LAUSD Schools?

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Photo by r_neches via Flickr

Photo by r_neches via Flickr
Yesterday, LAUSD's Board of Education voted in support of condemning neighbor-state Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, on the grounds that its enforcement is likely to promote racial profiling.

During the course of the discussion on the issue as it pertains to the education of their enrolled students, of which almost three-quarters are of Latino heritage, the Board requested that Superintendent Ramon Cortines "ensure that civics and history classes discuss the recent laws with students in the context of the American values of unity, diversity and equal protection for all people,” as described in a press release.

So how does that impact what is taught in LAUSD schools?

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According to Fox News, it means the curriculum will now reflect an anti-American point of view when it comes to immigration law: "The Los Angeles Unified School District school board wants all public school students in the city to be taught that Arizona's new immigration law is un-American," begins a piece published yesterday.

While many argue that the LAUSD Board of Education, joining a growing chorus of California entities formally voicing dissent regarding the law, has no role interfering in Arizona politics, their gesture was a symbolic one meant to go on record as part of a national movement aimed at spotlighting the tension between Arizona's law and national immigration policies. Doing so does not include a change in curriculum directive, particularly one that would find LAUSD teachers imposing a one-sided interpretation of a complex issue that touches many of their own students.

Where did Fox get the "un-American" bit, then? It comes from Board President Monica Garcia remarks, following the vote: "America must stand for tolerance, inclusiveness and equality. In our civics classes and in our hallways, we must give life to these values by teaching our students to value themselves; to respect others; and to demand fairness and justice for all who live within our borders. Any law which violates civil rights is un-American."

In response to their inquiry, Fox was provided a clarification regarding the LAUSD's stance on approaching historic and contemporary issues of inequality with the aim of being tolerant and aware of the US's values of equal rights under the law:

In an e-mail to, school district spokesman Robert Alaniz elaborated: “The Board of Education directed the Superintendent to ensure that LAUSD civics and history classes discuss the recent laws enacted in Arizona in the context of the American values of unity, diversity, and Equal Protection for all. Much like a number of controversial periods and laws that are part of our history and are currently taught including:

-- Slavery

-- Jim Crowe laws and segregation

-- Native American reservations

-- Residential schools (for Native Americans)

-- The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

-- Anti-Irish racism in the 19th century

-- Racism against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe in the 20th century

-- Anti-Semitism

-- Internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II

-- The Mexican Repatriation Program (1929-1939)."