Students, faculty and others at Tucson High Magnet School protest a proposed law that would ban some ethnic studies classes. It has angered many Latinos and others who already are upset by a recent law cracking down on illegal immigrants. (James S. Wood, For The Times / May 8, 2010)

At the main entrance to a campus in Tucson, a sign greets visitors with "Welcome to Tucson High, Home of the Largest Xicano Studies Program in the Nation."

"Xicano," or Chicano, studies is a 14-year-old program in the Tucson Unified School District that offers classes from elementary through high school in topics such as literature, history and social justice that emphasize Latino authors and history.

In the wake of Arizona's adoption of a law to crack down on illegal immigration, such classes are the subject of another ethnically tinged fight in the state. Another bill approved by the Legislature seeks to ban such courses, which critics say promote "ethnic chauvinism."

Supporters of Mexican American studies say the aim is to offer subjects and perspectives ignored by academia, as well as foster pride in a marginalized community.

In teacher Curtis Acosta's literature class at Tucson High, the walls are plastered with the faces of labor leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara. Students read fiction by Luis Alberto Urrea and Junot Diaz and plays by the Los Angeles-based theater troupe Culture Clash. A poster proclaims "United Together En La Lucha"—In The Struggle...link to complete LAT article