Published June 02, 2010
This article was updated on June 3. See update at the end of the article.
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.
The school board president made the announcement Tuesday night after the district's Board of Education passed a resolution to oppose the controversial law, which gives law enforcement officials in Arizona the power to question and detain people they suspect are in the U.S. illegally when they are stopped in relation to a crime or infraction.
Critics of the law say it will result in racial profiling.
The school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to “express outrage” and “condemnation” of the law, and it called on the school superintendent to look into curtailing economic support to the Grand Canyon State. About 73 percent of the students in the school district are Latino.
But supporters of the law say the school board is way out of bounds and that the measure will just distract from the children's education.
“This is ridiculous, it’s ridiculous for us to be involved in Arizona law,” said Jane Barnett, Chairman, Los Angeles County Republican Party. “There is a 50 percent dropout rate in some parts of the school district—is this going to keep kids in school?”
According to its press release, "The Los Angeles Board of Education also 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.”
"America must stand for tolerance, inclusiveness and equality,” said Board President Monica García, according to the release. “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 an e-mail to FOXNews.com, 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:
-- 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
-- Internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II
-- The Mexican Repatriation Program (1929-1939)."
The school district resolution also opposed another new Arizona law that bans schools from teaching classes that promote the overthrow of the government or advocate ethnic solidarity.
The school board called on Arizona's leaders to reverse both of these “misguided” new laws, the press release said.
The board said the laws “effectively sanction and promote unconstitutional racial profiling and harassment,” and “blatantly violate the civil rights of both Arizona residents and all visitors to the State.”
They said Arizona’s new laws also “severely restrict the education of all children in Arizona by refusing to incorporate vital sections of history that incorporate the contributions of this country’s many diverse groups.”
The superintendent was also asked to investigate ways to curtail contracts with Arizona-based businesses and district travel to the state.
"We need to do everything in our power to help our students be global citizens, develop appreciation for the diversity in our midst, and reject any forms of racism or bias," said Board Vice President Yolie Flores. "This resolution highlights our commitment to ensuring that our students understand the ideals and constitutional rights that this great country is founded on, while also gaining an appreciation of the histories and cultural contributions of those who have helped build this nation."
“It is a sad day in America when the rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution are trampled upon under the color of law and authority,” said LAUSD Board Member Martinez. “Everyone, regardless of their status in the United States, has the right to equal protection under our laws. These Arizona laws are nothing but a knee-jerk backlash resulting from the lack of a comprehensive and well thought out immigration reform policy.”
The LA County Republican chairwoman said she’s been inundated with phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages from people all over Los Angeles who say their school district has no business meddling in another state’s laws when they’ve got so many problems of their own to deal with.
“This is really crazy,” she said. “Everybody is upset about this.”
Barnett called the school board resolution a “pathetic stunt” that distracts educators from what they should be focusing on: educating the students.
“This is nothing we should be involved in. Let the courts deal with this,” she said. “We need to keep out of other people’s states’ business.”
Nathan Mintz, the founder of the South Bay Tea Party and the Republican nominee for the 53rd State Assembly seat.
“This is just another example of these embedded bureaucrats in California doing anything they can to deflect and distract from the poor job their doing of educating our children,” said Nathan Mintz, the founder of the South Bay Tea Party and the Republican nominee for the 53rd State Assembly seat.
He said attacking Arizona’s immigration law is just “a distraction from the key issue of educating the kids in our schools.”
“We support Arizona,” Barnett said. “In fact, I think we ought to go there right now for vacation.”
UPDATE: On June 3, The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education offered the following official response to this article:
“The Board of Education has 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. This very important piece of current events would be taught in our classrooms along with a number of controversial periods and laws which are a part of our history and are currently being taught including: slavery; Jim Crow laws and segregation; reservations and residential schools for Native Americans; The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; the anti-Irish racism in the 19th century; racism against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe during the 20th century; anti-Semitism; internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II and the Mexican Repatriation Program during the 1930s.
Let’s remember that these laws were all deemed as “necessary” (in some cases for the security of our nation) during particular times in our history. To ignore what is currently happening in Arizona would be total denial of current events and a part of our history. At the very least it’s a discussion that should take place in the classroom.”