What would you do if the governor said one of your classes was now illegal?
That's what's happening in Arizona, where the governor just signed a bill aimed at banning ethnic studies in the public schools.
Judy Burns (pictured above), president of the school district in Tucson, Arizona, says those classes will go on anyway. She sees how important they are to the students.
"I see how engaged the kids are in their education, some of them for the very first time," she says. "They feel empowered. It wakes them up to the possibilities of their future. "
On May 11, Arizona passed a law that would ban classes designed primarily for students of particular ethnic groups, or that advocate ethnic solidarity or promote resentment of a race or a class of people. Any district teaching such classes would risk losing 10 percent of its state financing once the law goes into effect Dec. 31.
Rather than being divisive, as supporters of the new law claim, Burns says ethnic studies make students more sensitive to the history and culture of other peoples, as well as proud of their own. It makes them better citizens.
Burns says the law is aimed directly at Tucson, because her district is the only one in the state that actually offers ethnic studies at the K-12 level. Tucson's school district, which is 56 percent Latino, has a Mexican-American studies department and offers classes in African-American literature.
University of Arizona Professor Sandra Soto agrees. She criticized the ethnic studies ban in her commencement speech this week in Tucson.
Judy Burns is standing up for her students. What would you do if this were your school?
Have you ever taken or taught an ethnic studies class? What did you learn, and do you feel it was important? What can people gain by learning about other cultures and histories?
NOT IN OUR TOWN RESOURCE: in Profiling Kevin, an African American teenager in Palo Alto, CA brought together students from a wide range of backgrounds to bridge the ethnic and racial divides in their community. Through learning about African American history and culture, he says he feels prouder of who he is, and better able to reach out to others.