Horne responds to protest by ethnic studies supporters

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PHOENIX--On Tuesday night dozens of students stormed a meeting of the Governing Board of the Tucson Unified School District and chained themselves to chairs, forcing the meeting to be canceled.

The students were protesting a proposal that would take ethnic studies courses out of the schools' core curriculum and make them electives.

Participating students said they believed the proposal was part of a plan to slowly dismantle the ethnic studies program altogether.

Arizona Attorney General and former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said disruptive protests like Tuesday's are encouraged by ethnic studies courses.

"I think this illustrates what the students are being taught in the ethnic studies class," said Horne. "They're teaching them to be disruptive, instead of using freedom of speech to talk to each other and listen to each other."

As Superintendent of Public Education Horne championed a ban on ethnic studies in Arizona classrooms, helping to write legislation that prohibits school districts from offering courses designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.

The Tuscon Unified School District has continued its program but has been identified as out of compliance with state law, and stands to lose funding.

Dr. Sara Aleman, Director of Ethnic Studies at Norther Arizona University, disagreed with Horne's statement that the classes encourage disruptiveness.

"That's not the way we approach ethnic studies," said Aleman, adding the goal of such programs is to give students a broader world view.