PHOENIX (AP) – The former state official behind a ban on a popular Mexican-American studies program in Tucson is scheduled to spend Tuesday testifying in federal court over the law Arizona passed that ultimately ended the program.
Former Arizona schools chief Tom Horne, who was behind the battle against the program the year that lawmakers passed the state’s landmark immigration law, has also defended the law that restricts ethnic studies courses in public schools as the state’s former attorney general, saying it helped keep “radical” curriculum out of classrooms.
A federal judge is considering whether the law was enacted with discriminatory intent. The trial began June 26 and took a two week break before resuming Monday. It’s expected to last through at least July 25.
The 2010 law prohibits courses if they promote resentment toward a race or a class of people, are designed primarily for peoples of a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of peoples as individuals.
It shuttered the Mexican-American studies program at the Tucson Unified School District. Students and parents launched sometimes tense protests, saying the courses were important and improved student performance. A group of students filed a civil suit in federal court against the state, saying the law was overly broad and violates the right of free speech.
Most of the law has been upheld by the courts, but a judge will now determine whether it was enacted with discriminatory intent.
“The legislative history makes clear that the statute while, broader in nature, was directed at the Mexican-American studies program,” plaintiffs’ attorney Jim Quinn said.
Arizona denies that the law was enacted with racial discrimination.
“With respect to TUSD’s MAS program, the evidence shows that…