If any state has set the lowest bar in recent years in regards to racial and ethnic relations, Arizona may stake the best case. Between the Minutemen patrolling the southern border and the manic let-God-sort-'em-out attitude of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, amongst the increased hardening of Sen. John McCain and the right's continued praise of the state's employment checks, Arizona has become the most noted, most combustible front in the browning of America.
As such, despite the normal, natural response to try to avoid Arizona's methods of racial alienation, perhaps it's only natural that our local Tea Party torch-bearer, State Senator Dan Patrick, would hope to emulate certain of Arizona's most stringent race-based legislation. At least, that's the claim by the folks at Librotraficante, a Houston-based organization that helped keep Latino heritage within Arizona's schools.
According to a press release, Librotraficante met with Patrick today to discuss SB 1128, a bill Patrick submitted just days before the filing deadline. It seems that SB 1128 shares certain parallels with Arizona's 2010 HB 2281, which effectively barred public schools from offering any individualistic, race- and ethnicity-based electives. That is to say, with HB 2281's passage, the state effectively ended any Latino-American studies within a population that is over 30 percent Hispanic.
We'll update with reactions from the meetings in a bit, but, for now, it's worth taking a look at what Librotraficante -- which helped "smuggle" over 1,000 texts to Arizona, as well as found six "underground" libraries in the state - believes Patrick is attempting to bundle, now that Spring Break is in full swing:
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Dan Patrick has basically taken Arizona House Bill 2281, the legal trigger used to prohibit Mexican American Studies in Arizona, and mixed up the numbers to create TX SB1128, thinking we would not notice this attempt to destroy Mexican American and African American Studies in Texas. He submitted the day Spring Break began so that most professor and administrators don't know about it.
The bill in and of itself is relatively brief. Patrick wants to prohibit students from graduating from public universities unless they have received at least "six semester hours ... from courses providing a comprehensive survey of American History." Additionally, the student can submit up to three hours from "courses providing a comprehensive survey of Texas History." While these may seem somewhat innocuous on its face -- core requirements are but a part of all advanced educational pursuits -- Patrick seems bent on confirming that history requirements be delimited solely to "comprehensive" surveys, rather than specific courses of study.
As Librotraficante wrote, such regulation "would prevent the story of Mexican American Congressional Medal of Honor Winners from being taught in courses that count toward degrees in Texas colleges." Since Patrick agreed to a meeting with Librotraficante's representatives, we like to think he's taking their concerns somewhat seriously. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the language in this bill, it seems he's also opted to take Arizona's brusque legislation seriously, too.