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Arizona ethnic studies ban reignites discrimination battle

Here we see Critical Theory raising it’s ugly head in the incarnation of "critical race theory,"

“Mexican American Studies Director Martin Sean Arce said teachers use an approach called "critical race theory," now common in multicultural studies in higher education.“

Also, we see a very clear connection between K-12 indoctrination and Indoctrination at the University level

”The senior class in American Government/Ethnic Studies is called "the social justice class" because it is operated with the University of Arizona's Social Justice Education Project.”

Arizona ethnic studies ban reignites discrimination battle

TUCSON - The ethnic-studies program targeted for elimination under a new state law was itself created to help resolve a race-discrimination lawsuit against Tucson public schools.
The program has long drawn fire from critics, most significantly state Superintendent Tom Horne, who says it provokes racism and wants it shut down. Backers of House Bill 2281, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer last week, say it is intended to do that.

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But when the Mexican-American studies program began in 1997, it was meant to appease families who had sued the district, alleging segregation and racial inequity across the school system.
The origins of the courses further complicate an issue that has divided the school system and thrust Arizona, yet again, into the national spotlight on issues of race and immigration.
Students and others who defend the program argue that their classes teach students history from a multicultural perspective, and help them analyze public services to find evidence of discrimination. They say the classes have been unfairly demonized.
The result has been several public protests in Tucson, but no agreement yet on whether the new law will actually have its intended effect of shutting down all aspects of ethnic studies in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Tucson Unified School District attorney Rob Ross said the courses arose directly from the district's original lawsuit settlement in 1978.
Ross and other district administrators said they believe lawmakers who supported the ban were unaware of the courses' link to the segregation case.
On Monday, Horne said he did not know the Mexican American Studies Department was key to the district's settlement, but speculated that it was only included because local courts were considered "friendly" to the plaintiffs.
Segregation case
In 1974, an African-American couple, Roy and Josie Fisher, and the NAACP sued Tucson Unified School District, alleging racial bias in the makeup of its schools, staff, student discipline rates, and student services. Months later, Tucson parent Maria Mendoza and other Hispanic community members sued the district, making similar claims.
The cases were merged. Four years later, a U.S. District Court judge in Tucson oversaw a settlement.
The district adopted new hiring practices. It tracked suspension and expulsion rates among African-Americans and other groups to ensure they were not disproportionate to their peers. It also changed school boundaries and busing to balance the demographic makeup of classes.
To appease the plaintiffs, it started an African-American studies program and added Mexican-American studies in 1997. The court monitored the district's compliance with the settlement for three decades.
A final plan approved by the judge in December released the district from court monitoring. The final plan put particular emphasis on the ethnic-studies programs.
It calls for annual reviews of the two programs by the district's Department of Student Equity, headed by the former director of Mexican-American studies, Augustine Romero.
The plan said the classes would actually help the district identify other inequities. It also said the Mexican-American studies class should be expanded, because, according to administrators, students have asked for more classes.
House Bill 2281
The new law is the result of three years of pressure Horne put on the Legislature.
The law bans classes in kindergarten to 12th grade that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, are designed primarily for pupils of one ethnic group, or that advocate ethnic solidarity.
The superintendent of public instruction or state Board of Education can declare districts to be in violation of the law after it takes effect Dec. 31, just before Horne's term expires. If either authority finds a district in violation, the district has 60 days to comply or the state will withhold 10 percent of its monthly payments.
School-district officials said their programs are "in full compliance" with the new law. They deny that the courses promote anarchy or racial resentment, which are banned. Horne and other critics of TUSD programs argue otherwise.
Tim Hogan is executive director of Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, a civil-rights group that focuses on education issues. He said the law's anti-bias focus sounds deceptively simple. "Who's going to disagree with this?" he asks. "That's like saying 'we're anti-crime.' "
But he also says the law's description of which courses are allowable is far from clear. A provision of the law allows classes that discuss "controversial aspects of history" and "are open to all students." Tucson's program could fit that definition, he said.
And he said giving the state superintendent the power to decide to withhold 10 percent of funding for districts found in violation is treacherous ground.
Teaching method
The senior class in American Government/Ethnic Studies is called "the social justice class" because it is operated with the University of Arizona's Social Justice Education Project.
Students read about court cases and learn to do research based on data, such as school enrollment or poverty figures.
To pass the class, students look for an inequity to analyze and solve, and give a presentation. The students often study disparities in services within the education system, but they can choose anything.
Mexican American Studies Director Martin Sean Arce said teachers use an approach called "critical race theory," now common in multicultural studies in higher education.
Julio Cammarota, the co-director of the UA project, recalls seniors in the class at Rincon High School once compared the racial makeup of their student enrollment, largely Latino, to that of University High School, a college preparatory school that serves a majority White student population. "So they were looking at divisions between the two and how those influence the perceptions of themselves and how it sort of has a negative effect on them," he said.
Another group of students in the class at Tucson High Magnet School studied stereotypes of young people, including stereotypes of the two sexes and of students who are gay or lesbian.
When students uncover stories of oppression, Arce said, they may express anger or frustration. He said instructors encourage them to focus on peaceful resolution.
But others have claimed the approach makes students experience feelings of bitterness and White hatred.
Eight-year board member Adelita Grijalva said the board has looked into complaints about the classes but found nothing. She believes the board shouldn't tell teachers how to teach.
"I really would prefer that that be left to the educators," she said.
Still, concerns persisted. Former Tucson history teacher John Ward and English teacher Hector Ayala, raised concerns about the program as Horne began his own inquiry in November 2006. That's when Arizona Department of Education officials made the first of a half-dozen records requests to the district, asking for curriculum-related documents from the Mexican American Studies Department (then also known as Raza studies) to review what it was teaching, the district said.
On June 11, 2007, Horne published "an open letter to the citizens of Tucson" urging them to demand an end to the ethnic-studies courses. He began approaching lawmakers in 2008 for legislation.
Students protest
The 26 Tucson High Magnet School juniors in Maria Federico-Brummer's class have been studying U.S. history and oppression from the Chicano perspective.
She asked them last Friday to read part of an editorial about Horne's effort last week to visit the district after HB 2281 was signed, and then told them to write and "reflect."
Within minutes, students were sharing feelings of confusion, hurt and anger over the law and Horne's statements.
"We're not against the bill. There shouldn't be racist classes," said Rebecca Perez, 16, after the bell rang. "The people who determine, though, what's racist . . . are the people who don't like us, who never visited a class."
The classroom walls are covered with posters of revolution and civil-rights icons - the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez and Emiliano Zapata Salazar, leader of the Mexican Revolution. Other posters feature Aztec symbols associated with Mexican history, such as the circular calendar, and messages from past movements, such as the United Farm Workers strikes and the 2006 immigration marches, including the still-repeated Chavez cry: "¡Sí se puede!" (Yes, we can!)
Student outcry has been so strong it left some administrators unnerved.
About 30 students and alumni of TUSD gathered Friday outside administration offices to protest the ban.
A lanky teen who refused to give his name wore a mask in Horne's likeness and snatched books from other students until they pretended to beat him to the ground and reclaimed their books.
District officials and police listened as students shouted: "Tom Horne, we wish you'd never been born!" and "Our education is under attack; what do we do? Fight back!"
Some 200 students walked out of school and some jammed into the TUSD offices last week when they learned Horne was coming to visit. Officials canceled the meeting.
Arce said instructors teach students about the methods of civil-rights leaders Gandhi, King and Chavez.
Administrators said the protests had to be allowed. "At Tucson Unified School District, we have to respect the First Amendment," said Assistant Superintendent Edith Macklin-Isquierdo.
Horne said the protests show the courses are at a "very low intellectual level" and are "outrageous."
"These kids should be taking an American history course and getting American history in depth," Horne said. "Instead, they're getting propaganda and an ideology that teaches them to resent the United States."
He has not visited a class, administrators say.
Graduation in Tucson Unified is next week. Along with diplomas the district will hand out voter-registration forms, Macklin-Isquierdo said. "If you want to change what happens in the state of Arizona," she said, "you have to vote."

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Comment by Harry Mathews on May 19, 2010 at 6:49am
Graduation in Tucson Unified is next week. Along with diplomas the district will hand out voter-registration forms, Macklin-Isquierdo said. "If you want to change what happens in the state of Arizona," she said, "you have to vote."


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