Ethnic studies program draws national attention

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Wednesday's protest over the ethnic studies program in the Tucson Unified School District has sparked an influx of national debates.

State lawmakers passing the bill believe the program segregates students. TUSD administrators say it does not.

The cable networks all aired the story.

"...calls and emails from CNN, Larry King, MSNBC, the LA Times...NY times...," Sean Arce, TUSD's Mexican American studies director, has been taking phone calls from national media almost all day since Wednesday's protest of superintendent of public instruction, tom Horne's visit to the district.

House Bill 2281, signed into law Tuesday evening, prohibits schools from having programs that promote the overthrow of the u-s government or resentment toward a Arce. Horne specifically accuses TUSD's Mexican American studies program of violating the new law.  "All those claims are unfounded.  They're all untruths," says Arce.

Truth is, TUSD's ethnic studies program was created in response to a de-segregation lawsuit filed against TUSD years ago by African and Mexican American parents in Tucson. Arce says money gained from the lawsuit continues to fund the ethnic studies program, but, what was once a helpful program is now viewed by some as a hurtful program. At least that's one theory.

Superintendent Horne is currently running for state attorney general. Deputy superintendent, Margaret Dugan, is running for Horne's position. She spoke out against the ethnic studies program on CNN Wednesday.

Both deny the issue is political.

"Those are outright lies," says Sean Arce.

Four TUSD Middle School Students were arrested and released following Wednesday's protest, as well as some university students and university professors.