Tucson School District to Reinstate Controversial ‘Mexican American Studies’ Without Approval – Will be Mandatory Course for all Students

Via the Arizona Daily Independent:

Update: The Governor’s Ombudsman has notified the AZDI that TUSD could offer “no compelling reason” to withhold the curriculum from the public. The district agreed to respond to an RFI by Wednesday.

In its ruling against the Tucson Unified School District, the Arizona Department of Education found that the District in violation of five Arizona statues, 15-112 A (2), 15-112A (3), 15-112 A (4), 15-722, 15-341, ARS 15-721, 15-722. The violation which earned national attention was of course the effect the Mexican American Studies classes had on students.

That ruling was upheld by federal judge Wallace Tashima, who found A.R.S. 15-112 A (1), 15-112 A (2), and 15- 112 A (4) constitutional. Tashima ruled against § 15-112(A)(3) as “facially overbroad.” The Court found that the “provision does not promote any legitimate interest that is not already covered by §15-112 (A)(2) and (A)(4).”

Tashima based his finding primarily on the testimony and ruling of Administrative Judge Lewis Kowal. Throughout the testimony before Kowal, teachers and parents recounted instances in which the presentation of materials and the materials themselves created resentment in TUSD students.

A review of the newly proposed curricula shows that the district is committed to “problematizing students” and “racisimizing” their view in a way that can do little but build resentment toward those afflicted with “whiteness.”

The educator described the material as “racism and ethnocentrism dressed up in radical clothing. It is much closer to the thinking of Herbert Marcuse. The German who provided the Baader-Meinhof gang and the Italian Red Brigades the justification for their terrorism in the 1970s. Much of Freire’s work is lifted right out of Marcuse.” The frequent requirement that students make persuasive arguments in favor of Romero’s particular philosophy clearly demonstrates Romero’s intent to indoctrinate rather than educate.

Romero’s belief that the Treaty of Hidalgo was supposed to have granted lands to Mexican Americans and his support for a borderless continent is evident in his consistent reference throughout the curricula to the Treaty and “lost” land.

The curriculum describes “critical praxis as the knowledge and action for societal transformation.” The curriculum instructs students “to examine and apply critical praxis as the students primary method of analysis evaluation in the construction of new ideas and thoughts.”

According to TUSD documents, all 9th Grade students will be required to take the Culture, Identity, and Transformation class.

Class highlights:

•Students will identify methods of resistance of Mexicans in newly acquired territory to include social banditry as a response to lost land and to counter violence (i.e. lynchings, sexual violence) vigilantes used as a means of political economic and social control.

• Write a research based informative persuasive essay based upon the analysis of primary documents on the following question: Does the Mexican-American war and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo have implications for Mexican-Americans today? Please be sure to include the demographics of Mexican-Americans, immigration issues, legal issues, such as the racial categorization used by the federal courts, political issues, education issues, and issues of language and culture.

• Utilizing primary sources and research, students in a persuasive essay will analyze and articulate the notion that Mexican-Americans Chicanos are second-class citizens in the United States. Consider indicators such as income, wealth, educational attainment, political representation, ballot access, access to healthcare, incarceration rate.

• The enduring understanding: Mexican-Americans have strong indigenous roots and are native to this continent. Yet many Mexican Americans have been treated as outsiders, strangers in their own land.

• Students will identify the influences in their lives that it helped to shape their identities students will critically evaluate and analyze the intent of these influences.

• Students will define the following terms and describe how they fit into their understanding of community:

A) Justice
B) Kindness
C) Peace
D) Equality
E) Equity
F) Civil society
G) Trust
H) Responsibility

• Students will then critique their definitions and descriptions with a focus on how they constructed them. Students will identify and examine the sources of their information and ask the questions: What is the intent of the information? What is unseen oppression? What is the unseen oppression in their definitions and descriptions?

• Students will define and debate concepts of who is American and what it means to be American. Students will evaluate and assess how these understandings impact their lives and the lives of those in their communities.

• Enduring understanding: In the United States the social construction of race, class, religion, language, disability, and gender is pervasive. These constructions impact our understanding of justice and equity. Second enduring understanding: Hegemony explains the establishment and maintenance of the social hierarchy.

• Policies about racial superiority were developed to assume the superiority of whiteness and arrange a hierarchical order in which only a few are on the top and many are on the bottom.

• Examine the benefits of expansionism for white land holders and the government policies and legislation that perpetuated the advantage. Articulate the impact of these consequences upon historic and present generations of Americans after viewing statistics landownership up to present time.

• Students will be asked to write a persuasive essay that takes one position on the following question was the American Revolution a “full” or “kind” of revolution i.e. one that required an end to conflict resulting from various forms of oppression and subordination by welcoming indigenous peoples into society, outlawing slavery, paying workers a fair wage, and granting equal rights to women. In other words creating a new society characterized by economic, social, racial, gender, and political equality or one that set the stage for equal rights to follow?

• Students are asked whether the American melting pot was a compromise supported by immigrants through which they could become American or was it a method by which whiteness further became entrenched as the ticket to privilege while others were delegated to lower class status? They are asked to examine the drive for the Irish to become white in American society and examine the racial antagonism against Germans, Italians, Japanese, and Chinese. They are asked what are the present-day implications of this history?

• Students are told that war creates a distraction from civil unrest and helps to unify conflicting groups against an outside enemy that poses a perceived greater threat. “This calling for sacrifice and patriotism from the very people who might otherwise be leading internal rebellion.”

• Students will be asked to cite historical evidence and propaganda that illustrates that American involvement in imperialistic wars and World War II was controversial for many Americans anti-imperialist isolationist socialist African-Americans and female suffragist and others

• Students are asked to compare capitalism versus Socialism in regards to the problems created by the widening gap between the rich and poor in the discussion about industrialism and the American embrace of capitalism.
______________

To many educators the most startling finding by the ADE was the fact that at no time did the Governing Board ever review and vote publically to approve the curriculum. As per statue that is a basic function of boards, and with the continuing effort by the NEA and NSBA to gut the powers of school boards, it is one of the few functions expected of them.

It appears that once again the Governing Board has been left out of the approval process.

A.R.S. 15-721 and 15-722 require school district governing boards to approve the course of study and the basic textbook for each course. Additionally, if a course does not include a basic text, the governing board must approve all supplemental books to be used in the course prior to approving the course. Additional duties are prescribed under these sections of statute for governing boards to maintain authority over texts and supplemental materials used in all curses and subject them to public review prior to adoption.

After reviewing the curricula and discussing it with various, teachers, and civil rights representatives, Board member Michael Hicks says he has reconsidered his decision to not seek re-election. “I am not going to leave these kids to these political predators. I have heard from too many families who were concerned about what their kids were learning and how they were being treated. Nothing has changed. They are determined to indoctrinate those kids and someone has to stand up for them and their families.”

According to the district’s administration, the public will have four days to review all of the materials, and have 3 minutes per person to ask questions or express concerns at the June 11 Governing Board meeting.

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