Rep. Grijalva requests federal intervention in ethnic studies battle

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona)

Rep. Grijalva requests federal intervention in ethnic studies battle

CREATED Jan 24, 2012

Reporter:  Forrest Carr

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - U.S. Rep Raúl Grijalva is asking the federal government to step into the battle over the Tucson Unified School District's Mexican-American Studies program.  On Tuesday afternoon, his office released a letter the congressmen is sending to U.S. Department of Education, urging an investigation.

The letter was sent out on the letterhead of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and co-signed by its chairman, U.S. Rep Gonzalez (D-Texas).  The two addressed it to Russlynn Ali, who is assistant secretary in the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

The letter points out that Arizona education chief John Huppenthal found TUSD's program to be in violation of the state's new law cracking down on ethnic studies even though his own auditors found otherwise.  Grijalva and Gonzalez said they believe that law is "bad public policy and fundamentally flawed."  They said that its use to shut down TUSD's Mexican-American Studies program "will only serve to exacerbate the already harmful anti-Latino sentiment in Arizona.  Arizona is sending the wrong message."

The letter calls on Ali to open an investigation to ensure compliance with federal law.

In a statement released with the letter, Grijalva said that the state is shutting down the program "for purely ideological reasons."  He said the Dept. of Education should investigate to determine "whether this power grab is authorized under federal law.”