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I was disgusted, shocked and appalled by the most recent decision in Arizona, to ban ethnic studies in Arizona schools. The reasons for the ban are so bizarre; I thought I was reading a George Orwell book.

They claim that ethnic studies cause certain groups to ban together to want to overthrow the government, resent white people and become racial separatists.

They also said that students could learn about different groups as long as the classes didn't support treating people as groups, as opposed to appreciating the value and contributions of individuals.

This argument is not only absurd, but exemplifies a level if ignorance and strict binary thinking that seems to be going viral.

Instead of banning ethnic studies, they need to encourage all students to learn about the history and contributions of all groups and societies. Research has shown that diversity of thought, ideas and experiences and interaction can increase innovation and shorten the time to solve problems creatively.

The school board and decision makers in Arizona are fostering the myth that ethnic studies preach alienation and sedition.

Ethnic studies have never been just for people from that ethnicity, just like classes in European civilization have not been just for people from Europe.

Classes in ethnic studies are opportunities for all students to get a more well rounded education, interact with students they might not otherwise get to know, and prepare them for life in our diverse country and global business environment. It opens their minds to new ideas, new ways of thinking and new ways of being creative and innovative.

The way this law is written and expressed would have people who don't know any better, believe that only people from particular groups are in those classes and that others, particularly white people are unwelcome. Supporters of the law seem to also promote the idea that the only reason for the ethnic studies classes are to waste time and conspire against people who aren't there.

How many members of this select group of ignorati have ever been in an ethnic studies class?

A large number of students in these ethnic studies classes are not from that target group, but are there because they want to learn, and go beyond their own experience.

I've seen ethnic studies classes where the majority of students were white and so was the teacher.

There are white people teaching black ethnic studies classes, and black people teaching European history classes, etc.

Successful companies like Cisco, Google, Oracle, Proctor and Gamble, IBM, Apple, and Qualcomm, that are innovation leaders rely on the collective genius of people from diverse backgrounds across in the U.S. and across the world.

In today's global economy, with an open source world culture, lawmakers that pass narrow-minded ignorant edicts that limit what our future leaders learn about other people, are closing the door to higher learning, creating small clique silos, and impeding cross-cultural social interaction, and ensuring that we'll be lost in the 1950s.

Simma Lieberman Associates  

510.527.0700  Fax: 510.527/0723  1185 Solano Ave. PMB 142  Albany, CA 94706  

Learn more about the ultimate guide. Putting Diversity to Work, how to successfully lead a diverse workforce, by Simma Lieberman, George Simons, and Kate Berardo.   

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