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August 1, 2014

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As Arizona considers expanded ban, ‘The Daily Show’ lampoons decision to oust ethnic studies

Two years ago, the Arizona legislature passed a law banning ethnic studies courses in grades K-12. The law was challenged in court, but the ethnic studies advocates lost and the Tucson school district was forced to shutter its Mexican American studies program.

The law targeted classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity "instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." It also banned classes that "promote resentment toward a race or class of people."

On Monday, a few days after news circulated that some Arizona officials want to expand the ban to state universities, Comedy Central’s satirical news program "The Daily Show" ran a segment on the Tucson school district and its dismantling of its Mexican American studies program.

In the segment, Al Madrigal, "The Daily Show" senior Latino correspondent, interviews a member of the Tucson School Board and a Mexican American studies teacher.

School Board member Michael Hicks explains the Tucson program taught students that "the only way to get out from beneath the gringo, which is the white man, is by bloodshed."

Madrigal then asks Hicks what he observed in the classes.

"I chose not to go to any of their classes," Hicks said. "Why even go? Why even go? I based my thoughts on hearsay from others."

Hicks described the law as being "specifically written" for Mexican American studies and said Africa American studies could still be taught in the district.

"We don't teach them to hate white people," Mexican American studies teacher Curtis Acosta told "The Daily Show." "What we're trying to do is provide a more complex version of what has happened in our past so that our student are engaged and they can ask themselves critical questions and build their own understanding."

The decision to ban ethnic studies led to many protests in Arizona, and if officials do start the process to expand the ban to higher education, more clashes are expected.

Here is a complete reading list from Tucson's program.

The books were removed from school libraries but were not technically banned, as students can still request them.

Some of the books include:

"Critical Race Theory: An Introduction" by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic

"Occupied America: A History of Chicanos" by Rodolfo Acuña

"Chicano!: A History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement" by Francisco A. Rosales

"The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven" by Sherman Alexie

"Voices of a People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn

"House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros

"Zorro" by Isabel Allende

"Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools" by Jonathan Kozol

"United States Government: Democracy in Action" by R.C. Remy

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