December 28th, 2011
04:57 PM ET

Arizona ruling hits Tucson ethnic studies program

by the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Public schools in Tucson, Arizona, face millions of dollars in penalties after a ruling that the district's Mexican-American studies program violates state law.

An administrative law judge found the program's curriculum was teaching Latino history and culture "in a biased, political, and emotionally charged manner," and upheld state officials' findings that it violated a state law passed in 2010. The Tucson Unified School District had appealed a decision by the law's principal backer, then-state schools superintendent Tom Horne, to shut down the program.

Horne left office at the end of 2010, but his successor, John Huppenthal, backed Horne's ruling in June. Huppenthal said Tuesday's ruling shows "that it was the right decision."

"In the end, I made a decision based on the totality of the information and facts gathered during my investigation - a decision that I felt was best for all students in the Tucson Unified School District," he said in a written statement.
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Schools turn to Chinese language classes with help of Chinese government
The plaque for the Confucius Classroom at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee is unveiled at the classroom's dedication.
December 28th, 2011
08:35 AM ET

Schools turn to Chinese language classes with help of Chinese government

By Susanna Capelouto, CNN Radio

Listen to CNN Radio's podcast on learning Chinese in U.S. schools from Susanna Capelouto.

(CNN) About 75 students at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee, finished their first semester of Mandarin Chinese. Hillsboro Principal Terry Shrader says the inaugural class has been a success.

"We feel like, with the flattening of the world economy, that students who are able to learn some Mandarin and learn something about the Chinese culture have a leg up when they move into college and eventually the work force,” Shrader says.

Hillsboro offers the International Baccalaureate, a specialized high school diploma that focuses on global and cultural skills. Students here have to take a second language; until this year only Spanish and French were offered.

“We have a really strong world language department,” says Shrader, “but we can only expand when we have the resources.”

Those resources came from Chinese Ministry of Education though the Confucius Center at the University of Memphis. The center promotes Chinese language and culture at the university level and at high schools, says Dr. Hsiang-Te Kung, who runs the center.
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