The superintendent of the Arizona Department of Public Education says his agency will consider a refusal by the school district in Tucson to videotape its “Raza studies” classes as evidence the district is “deliberately” concealing its agenda.
The state had asked Tucson, in view of a new state law that takes effect at the end of this year that bans promoting to students “the overthrow of the United States government” and other issues, to record its “Raza” classes this fall to documentwhat is being taught.
No, said Tucson officials.
So the state, which starting Jan. 1 can withhold 10 percent of the district’s state funding, confirmed it would cite that refusal when the dispute comes up for judicial review.
When the funds are withheld, said a state letter to the district, “You will have the right to appeal to an administrative law judge. If you agree to this videotape, it will be helpful evidence to the administrative law judge. If you refuse, we will offer that refusal as evidence to the administrative law judge that the school district has deliberately hidden facts that would show that the district is in non-compliance with H.B. 2281.”
The new law was adopted this year by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer. But it largely has been overshadowed by the international furor over the state’s plan to make illegal under state law what already is illegal under federal law – being in the state without permission.
The law, S.B. 1070, now is under consideration by possibly dozens of other states even as its enforcement in Arizona has been suspended by a federal judge pending a trial over its constitutionality.
S.B. 1070 even attracted the criticism of Mexican authorities, who decried that it would crack down on illegal aliens in Arizona. However, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly said the crackdown on illegals “may not be the most controversial Arizona law about illegal aliens.”
The additional law, Schlafly wrote, “bans classes that ‘promote the overthrow of the United States government’ or ‘promote resentment toward a race or class of people’ because schools should treat all pupils as individual Americans.”
She explained the issue arose because the Tucson School District offers courses in “Mexican-American studies (known locally as Raza Studies) that focus on that particular group and its influence.”
“The law doesn’t prohibit these classes so long as they are open to all students and don’t promote ethnic resentment or solidarity,” she explained. “However, Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, says the basic theme of the Mexican-American studies program is that Latino students ‘were and continue to be victims of a racist American society driven by the interests of middle- and upper-class whites.’”
The district’s goals for its Mexican-American Studies include “social justice” along with “Latino Critical Race Pedagogy,” and Schlafly reported pictures of the classroom walls revealed “heroes” such as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
Horne, who also is running for attorney general, and Deputy Superintendent Margaret Dugan had asked Tucson to videotape its “so-called ‘ethnic studies’ classes during the upcoming fall semester to provide important evidence as to whether those courses are in violation of H.B. 2281.”
The school district, however, sent WND a copy of a letter it dispatched to Horne refusing his request. Tucson Superintendent John Carroll cited his decision that the taping “would unnecessarily disrupt” the classes.
Horne had suggested state officials have reason to suspect the district may be in the position to infringe on the law.
“Margaret Dugan and I have worked for more than two years to get legislation passed to ensure that students are taught to be Americans and to treat each other as individuals, and not on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds,” Horne said in an announcement about the request.
“Though we are pleased the legislation passed, it is very unfortunate that it will not take effect until January of 2011. Margaret Dugan and I are asking the Tucson district to videotape the classes to provide evidence for an expected appeal to an administrative law judge, as to whether these courses violate H.B. 2281,” he said.
“The Ethnic Studies curricula that will be prohibited by law are designed to promote ethnic chauvinism and there is never a time or place for that in the classroom,” Dugan continued. “The lessons divide students on the basis of their race and ethnicity, instead of promoting the fundamental American value that we are all individuals.”
Horne’s recent letter to Carroll said that teachers and former teachers have reported the “whole inference and tone” of the “Raza Studies” was “anger.”
“(They taught students) that the United States was and still is a fundamentally racist country in nature, whose interests are contrary to those of Mexican-American kids,” the letter said.
“Individuals in this (Ethnic Studies) department are vehemently anti-Western culture. They are vehemently opposed to the United States and its power. They are telling students they are victims and that they should be angry and rise up,” the letter continued.
“A teacher describes how the TUSD administration intimidated him by removing him from his class, and calling him a ‘racist,’ even though he himself is Hispanic,” it added.
The state officials charged that Tucson “has hired a group of radical socialist activists who promote an anti-capitalist and anti-Western Civilization ideology. They use ethnic solidarity as their vehicle of delivery. A climate of outright intimidation has stopped many from standing up to this group for fear of being labeled racists. ”
Further, “Impressionable youth in TUSD have literally been reprogrammed to believe that there is a concerted effort on the part of a white power structure to suppress them and relegate them to a second-class existence. This fomented resentment further encourages them to express their dissatisfaction through the iconoclastic behavior we see – the contempt for all authority outside of their ethnic community and their total lack of identification with the political heritage of this country. ”
The letter also cited a statement from Augustine Romero of the district’s Ethnic Studies program on a television interview about why the course uses the word “Raza.”
His response, according to the letter, was, “So that our students could recognize and connect to their indigenous side, just like the word ‘dine’ for the Navajo translates to ‘the people,’ like the word ‘O’odham’ for the Tohono O’odham translates to ‘the people.’ The word ‘Yoeme’ for the Yoeme people translates to ‘the people.’ It was an attempt to connect to our indigenous sides, as well as our Mexican side. ”
“This would appear,” Horne wrote, “to us to be an admission, not only that the course violates the provisions of H.B. 2281, but that it was intended to do so by those who designed and implemented it.”
He wrote that he understands the district denies the charges and said the best course to determine the nature of the classes would be to record them.
“Please consider this a formal request to video tape the Ethnic Studies courses, and in particular, the Mexican-American/Raza Studies course, in their entirety, in the coming semester. To protect privacy of students, the videos should focus on the teacher alone. The videos should be of all classroom hours, and not selected,” Horne wrote.
He said he expects that when the law takes effect after Dec. 31, the state will announce it is withholding 10 percent of its allocations for Tucson, as allowed under the law.
The Mexican American Studies page on the Tucson school website boasts it advocates for curricula “that is centered within the Mexcian American-Chicano cultural and historical experience,” and “promoting and advocating for social and educational transformation.”
According to a report in the Tucson Sentinel, one of the books in use for the classes has been “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos.” The report also cited Tucson board president Judy Burns saying, “We don’t teach all those ugly things they think we’re teaching.”
Burns said there were no plans to end the program.
The National Review reported when John Ward, a Tucson teacher “who saw his U.S. history course co-opted by the Raza Studies department,” said students were being taught “that Mexican-Americans were and continue to be victims of a racist American society driven by the interests of middle and upper-class whites.”
Original article found at http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=192765