Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

In Mexican American Studies debate, Tucsonans need less spin and more truth

One of my lifelong inspirations has been my journalism professor, mentor, and advisor at Ohio State:  Martha Brian, a lifelong newspaperwoman and one seriously tough customer.

I knew how to write when I took her entry level reporting class, but Ms. Brian taught me to be a journalist. She taught me to dig for the truth, stick to the facts, check my sources, write concisely, meet the deadlines, think on my feet, never accept anything at face value, and always ask questions.

Ms. Brian suffered no fools, and she could spot a slacker a mile away. Her class was the flunk-out class. As the gate-keeper of the School of Journalism at The Ohio State University, you had to pass her class in order to progress. As budding journalist, she hammered four primary rules into us:

  1. News stories should be 100% factual— no excuses. If a student journalist wrote a story with any factual error, she gave them a zero for that story– regardless of how exciting the story or how beautifully it was written.
  2. Journalists meet their deadlines. To teach us this, she locked the door of the class room when the bell rang. It didn’t matter if you were sprinting down the hall toward the door, you didn’t get in, and you got a zero for the day’s work. No make-ups. No excuses.
  3. Journalists investigate stories and seek out credible sources. We were taught to ask questions– lots of questions. We investigated and wrote one original news story during every class period.
  4. The public has a right to know the truth. And it’s a journalists job to tell them. We were instilled with the ideal that journalists should be beholden to no one– not corporations, not politicians, not religious groups, not advertisers, not political parties, not activist movements– because it was our job to be unbiased in our reporting of the news to the American people. (Remember, these were the days of Woodward and Bernstein.)

Oh, Ms. Brian, how times have changed.

It’s a good thing Ms. Brian isn’t alive to see the degradation of  our profession. I can see her now in heaven in her neatly tailored suit, well-manicured hair, and little pillbox hat– a scotch on the rocks in one hand and a cigarette in the other– shouting “Error of fact! Error of fact!” at the blogosphere, sneering at FOX News’ “fair and balanced” slogan, and cursing the disappearance of news print  and paid journalists.

Ms. Brian’s Legacy and the Mexican American Studies debate

In the spirit of my mentor and the public’s right to know the truth about Mexican American Studies (MAS) debate, I’m calling on fellow bloggers and journalists to:

  1. Stick to the facts and forget the spin.
  2. Don’t take anything at face value.
  3. Ask more questions.
  4. Fight for transparency.
  5. Check multiple sources and cite those sources. (We are the storytellers– not the authorities.)
  6. Drop the editorializing– unless, of course, you’re writing an editorial.
  7. Stop the name-calling, the bullying, and the put-downs.

And, again in the spirit of Ms. Brian, here are a some of my unanswered questions about the MAS debate:

  1. What is the real budget for the MAS program and the other programs under Ethnic Studies? I have seen three budget figures published– one provided by TUSD School Board President Mark Stegeman and two others published by the Three Sonorans. I want full transparency in the funding for this and other TUSD programs supported by the desegregation monies.
  2. What does the evaluation data reveal? MAS supporters claim that the program has been evaluated and proven effective multiple times. The Arizona Daily Star reported that a TUSD statistician found no statistical difference in graduation rates when he compared MAS graduates with others in TUSD. Dr. Stegeman’s statement said it resulted in 10 more graduations per year over the three years studies. Where is the truth here? How many studies have been conducted? How were they conducted? Who conducted them? Was quantitative or descriptive (ie, more casual) data collected?  Where is the data published?
  3. What text books are being used in the MAS classes? I think the MAS program should provide a complete list of text books– since the course content is coming under fire from the right wing. (They’re teaching communism! They’re teaching Chicano Nationalism!) MAS supporters claim that the right is “cherry-picking” inflammatory passages from the texts (watch the attached video for some doozies). OK, I wouldn’t put it past them to be using that tactic, but how does the public know what they are teaching when no book list has been provided?
  4. What are the course descriptions for the MAS classes? The curriculum link on the MAS website is very vague. Surely, course descriptions exist. Why not make them public?
  5. Why has the MAS Community Advisory Board backed away from TUSD’s public forum? After the takeover of the TUSD meeting on April 26, MAS supporters chided the TUSD board for not holding the following meeting at a larger location. Now that the TUSD board is willing to hold a public forum– so all voices can be heard– they’re backing away from a meeting that the University of Arizona MAS faculty (many of whom also serve on the MAS Community Advisory Board) called for. (I guess that link has now disappeared from the TucsonCitizen.com.)
  6. While we’re on the subject of the MAS Community Advisory Board: Are their meetings open to the public? If so, how are they publicized? How are people appointed to this board? How long are their terms of service? Are board members compensated monetarily for their time? How often do they meet? Why is there no diversity on the board? What is their relationship to the MAS programs at the UA and TUSD and to the TUSD Board? What is their authority over a taxpayer-funded public school program? Mark Evans’ article from the Tucson Citizen morgue explained the origins of the MAS program and the advisory board, but I still have questions.
  7. How do the multiple familial and collegial relationships through the past four decades and across the multiple MAS support groups impact what is unfolding? Reading the Tucson Weekly’s article about MAS program and Chicano Nationalism movement of the 1970s connected many dots for me. There is a lot of cross pollination out there.
  8. And the bottomline: Has the MAS program improved graduation rates among Latino youth? The 1998 article said the Latino dropout rate was 8.33%. What is it today?

And, finally, what is being done to help the tens of thousands of TUSD students who are not in MAS succeed? What is TUSD doing for those Mexican American, African American, Native American, refugee, mixed race, and poor non-minority students who need our help? Focusing so intensely on this one small program is clouding the bigger picture: Education in Arizona is in trouble, and public education nationwide is under attack. As long as were fighting and drawing lines in the sand, nothing will progress. We need full transparency, and we need a public forum where everyone’s voices can be heard– not just those who shout the loudest. We need to come together to fix this– or Tom Horne will fix it for us.

UPDATE: And while we’re on the accuracy in reporting theme, check out this story. MAS smear campaigns have resulted in a defamation of character lawsuit.
TUSD’s Ethnic Studies Saga Continues: John Ward files lawsuit against TUSD

57 comments on “In Mexican American Studies debate, Tucsonans need less spin and more truth

  1. shane
    May 13, 2011

    Excellent article.  We (the public) depend on journalists to seek out and report facts. Spin and distortions ultimately undermine any effort. You’ve made several good points, but I want to address 3 and  you last paragraph.  One point 3, I would like to see the MAS textbook list, too. I edited an anthology of readings by/about Mexican Americans and I would like to see how the MAS list and my sources are alike or different. That would be interesting for me and I might learn something new!  Also I wonder how the right-wingers are making these attacks on the MAS class readings if the book list isn’t available.  ??   Last point is well taken. We need to be concerned about all these low-income and minority students, not only the largest minority but all of them.

  2. leftfield
    May 13, 2011

    “We need to come together to fix this…”

    I’ve never been convinced there was anything to “fix” prior to the time this became an issue that Horne, et. al. used to pander to the basest aspects of the electorate.  Where is the evidence that the Tucson High community has been asking for changes in the program?   To my knowledge, all the calls for change originated in Phoenix and all from the right wing.    Important as it is to “get the facts”, let’s not confuse the trees for the forest and forget how and why we started looking for the facts in the first place. 

    • kitty
      May 13, 2011

      You should really be more cynical about systems of power and authority.

    • Pamela Powers
      May 13, 2011

      Leftfield, by “fix this”, I am referring to the mess we are in now at a city– thanks to the spin and hatred that has been ginned up over a couple of classes being changed from core courses to electives.

      • leftfield
        May 13, 2011

        Please correct me if I am mistaken, but isn’t the impulse to change the status of “a couple of classes” coming from an attempt to appease Horne, et. al. and give them (hopefully) a reason to allow MAS to remain in some form at Tucson High?  Your comment seems to imply that the supporters of MAS started this fight, and not only that, but now are fighting dirty.  And to say that these are just a “couple of classes” is to trivialize the supporters of MAS and their efforts.  I think you know that they/we see this as much larger than “a couple of classes”.   

        So what is your end goal here?  What is the desired outcome?  To attempt to save MAS in some form (having given up on the idea that it can be saved in its current form or believing that the course itself is flawed and/or dangerous) through compromise?  To avoid chaos and disorder at school board meetings?  To fix all the problems of TUSD through changes in MAS?  To be done with this? What?

        Sorry, I just can’t believe that, even if the status of MAS as a core class is changed, the folks on the other side are not going to be back next year with some more ridiculous charges about these classes, or perhaps they will find some other way to demonize and attack migrants and Latinos in general.    Besides, I still don’t see the evidence that the Tucson High community perceived any problem until the attacks from Phoenix began.   So, once again, we’ve allowed the right wing to frame the debate, choose the battlefield, the weapons, decide which tactics are “appropriate” and “civil”; we’ve even allowed them to use this issue to “divide and conquer” .  Do you really want to live in the world they envision?  Do you not believe they have an overall agenda, only a part of which is eliminating Ethnic Studies?  The attacks on organized labor, the attacks on church/state separation, the attacks on community organizers, the attacks on social services, the unchecked upward flow of capital, deregulation or self-regulation of industry, the Texas School Board control of course content, disregard for environmental welfare, the scapegoating of powerless groups, the attacks on affirmative action; these are all just coincidences? 

        If not Ethnic Studies, which of these is worth fighting for?  If this is just “a couple of courses”, where is the line drawn?  At which point do you personally and we on the left say, “Ya Basta” and actually take a stand and stop just compromising and appeasing?     

      • Ernie McCray
        May 13, 2011

        Thanks, leftfield. You get it. Really get it. What has bothered me more than all the nuances going on in the arguments relating to Mexican American Studies being banned is this cry for compromise. As a black American I’ve dealt with it all my life: having “powers that be” wield their power over me and then when I stand up to it, everyone wants me to compromise. I am sickened that so many students, when they lost courses that they love – they became the culprits, the attacked, the thugs… they should approach it this way, they should approach it that way… well, they’ve approached it beautifully and I am so proud of them that they haven’t compromised an inch. It isn’t about “electives” and “core classes” as much as it is about “dignity.” If the courses are lost for good they will not have themselves to blame; they are learners now and what they have learned is a truth this old 73 year old black dude learned a long time ago: racism is a hard nut to crack. Conservatives will never have a struggling person’s back and  liberals love to just kowtow to concepts like “compromising” and not “looking bad when you fight back.” In such an environment chaining one’s self to a chair seems like a good idea as society isn’t listening to you anyway. What else is there to do? Wait until the classes they like are so compromised that they’re offered in an after school or Saturday program? There’s a time to compromise but that time is never when you’ve been blindsided. Never when those who are elected to protect you assault you.

      • Ernie McCray
        May 13, 2011

        “they became the culprits, the attackers, the thugs…”

      • leftfield
        May 13, 2011

        Thank you for your kind words, Ernie.  As a 73 year old black man living in America, I have no doubt you “get it” more than most could.

      • Vato Loco
        May 13, 2011

        Mr. McCray, thank you for your insight and your voice on these attacks on our children’s education by the  Maricopa conservatives  and our now, our own Tucson “progressive” brother and sisters…  With allies or fellow democrats  like Mrs. Powers, Stegemen, Pedicone, etc. who needs enemies?  Once again…  gracias Mr. McCray…  BTW…  Thank you for attending the Precious Knowledge premier in San Diego and i enjoyed your article…  paz y reflecciones…

      • Ernie McCray
        May 13, 2011

        I’m with these kids for as long as it takes or for as long as I’m around – and I sure hope I’m around a lot more years and that I see this problem resolved for the students soon.

      • Vato Loco
        May 13, 2011

        Mrs. Powers, you allow you friendship to Stegemen to blind you to his tyrannic actions which are contrary to your progressive philosophy…  Well said Leftfield and thank you for enegry and for being congruent in your words and actions…  I leave you this:
        First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
        Because I was not a Socialist.

        Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
        Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
        Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
        Because I was not a Jew.
        Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
        Martin Niemöller
        paz y reflecciones…

      • Pamela Powers
        May 14, 2011

        Mr. Gonzalez, how do you know who my friends are?

        Obviously, this famous poem should have another line added to it: “Then they came for the uppity women.”

        How is asking honest questions (which no one has dared answer), fighting for free speech for everyone (not just those who shout the loudest), and demanding transparency not progressive? I would say these ideals– plus freedom of the press– are the basis of US democracy.

        paz y reflecciones to you, too.

      • leftfield
        May 14, 2011

        “Then they came for the uppity women.”

        I believe the rest of the verse would go something like this:
        “Then they came for the uppity women
        and those that survived really regretted it.”

      • Pamela Powers
        May 14, 2011

        You got that right. 🙂

      • Vato Loco
        May 14, 2011

        Mrs. Powers… Wow… You know i find myself asking, why do i even care what you post in your blog; however, here i am commenting and i will tell you why… Your one of us… a progressive… and this KILLs me…You state that” How is asking honest questions (which no one has dared answer), fighting for free speech for everyone (not just those who shout the loudest), and demanding transparency not progressive?” Questions are beautiful Mrs. Powers; however, your questions are addressing the wrong party?MAS has been a successful,  Nationally renowned program for the last 10 years… If these classes were teaching to hate our Euro-American brothers and sisters, if these classes were teaching the overthrow of the United States Government, etc. etc… where are the TUSD parents and students who can testify to this? In 10 years you should have a least one, right Mrs. Powers? You would think there would be several that Horne, or Pedicone, or Stegemen could call on to support their LIES… There are none, in 10 years!!!! Why?… Because our classes do not teach what we are being accused of! Punto…. final… 10 years Mrs Powers and your questions have already been asked and answered… Tom Horne and his minions up North have created a law (A.R.S. 15-112) which is unconstitutional and will be stuck down in the federal courts Mrs. Powers. However, our so called “progressive” friends are going to do the bidding for Tom Horne and destroy our classes by making them electives(Ahh the irony). Our students will not stand by idly and allow this to happen, nor will we as parents!What program is your friend (public record) Stegemen proposing to replace our Nationally renowned MAS program with? Is Stegemen’s program Nationally renowned for addressing the Achievement gap? Does Stegemen’s program (making our classes electives and our department Service centered) address the Achievement gap? You see the achievement gap is the bottom line for our TUSD Chican@ community Mrs. Powers.  Why should we as a Chicano community go back to the day’s of de jure segregation. You as a “progressive” are asking our Chican@ TUSD community to go back in history when our classes were electives and our students were not competing with their Euro-American peers. You are asking us to compromise the education of our children. Mrs. Powers, we can not do that… Please make your professor, Ms. Brian (en paz descanse) proud and start being an investigative journalist who is not afraid to ask the people in power, tough, honest questions… Paz y reflecciones to you Mrs. Powers and power to the MUJER

  3. kitty
    May 13, 2011

    Why not fix the classes and keep them as core courses? That’s what’s at the heart of the problem here. The classes should be the equivalent of a comparative religion course, not a Bible study.

  4. shane
    May 13, 2011

    Leftfield, there are two things going on at the same time.
    1) Horne and Huppenthal are investigating the ethnic studies program at TUSD (which includes more than Mexican-American Studies) with the goal of ending the ethnic studies program entirely.
    2) TUSD superintendent John Stegeman proposes making changes in the Mex-Amer Studies (MAS) program. It looks like he made the proposal so as  to save the program from Horne and Huppenthal.  The controversial change is to make MAS an elective course, not a core course that counts toward graduation requires. There is active resistance to this change among many MAS students and supporters.
    Kitty, What do you mean by “fix” the classes?  And what, if anything, should be done about the other ethnic studies courses directed at Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans?  Those ethnic studies classes are electives, not core courses like Mexican American Studies.  Why are MAS courses “core” and the others “electives?”  I don’t know the answer.

    • kitty
      May 13, 2011

      Why are MAS courses “core” and the others “electives?”

      That’s another question that isn’t being talked about. Seriously, if there was a class about anarcho-capitalism that vigorously encouraged kids to be anarcho-capitalists, do you think it would stand? Academia is the new sunday school.

      • shane
        May 13, 2011

        Kitty, I don’t understand what you are saying or how that answers my question. Could you clarify?

      • kitty
        May 13, 2011

        Here’s the root of the problem. Marxists have exploited issues of race and ethnicity in higher education for so long that now the studies of certain ethnicities are entwined in Marxist propaganda. This curriculum isn’t an isolated instance, it’s the bubbling up of years of academic corruption inside a high school context. Just like we’ve had to deal with religious bias in our public education system in years past, now we have the problem of systemized political dogma that distorts and degrades intellectual standards. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Human nature hasn’t really changed that much.

      • leftfield
        May 14, 2011

        “Marxists have exploited issues of race and ethnicity in higher education for so long that now the studies of certain ethnicities are entwined in Marxist propaganda.”

        In the first place, we don’t “exploit” issues of race.  We didn’t create or invent out of whole cloth America’s racial problems.  In fact, it is our contention that racism and capitalism go hand in hand.  We do, however, bring the issues of race and class up for discussion.  And why not?  These are quite relevant issues to be discussed that apologists for the current system prefer to ignore. 

        As to your implication that there are Marxists hiding behind every pillar and post at institutions of higher learning: nonsense!  Would that it were, but not so I’m afraid.  Go ahead and take a poll as to how many  educators use any of Marx’s writings (or Lenin’s, or Trotsky’s, etc, etc) in a high school classroom.  Take another poll and ask MAS students how much time they spend studying control of the means of production.  It shouldn’t take long.  What this comes down to is that without any knowledge of Marxism other than the oft-repeated message that “it’s bad”, the right wing has decided to label anybody to the left of Hitler as a Marxist.  Anybody who utters the words “class” or “oppressed” or “workers” or “capitalism” is also called a Marxist.  It sells papers and fires up the faithful, but it ain’t the truth.


      • kitty
        May 14, 2011

        In the first place, we don’t “exploit” issues of race.

        As if anyone would ever admit to it.

        We didn’t create or invent out of whole cloth America’s racial problems.

        No one ever said you did.

        In fact, it is our contention that racism and capitalism go hand in hand.

        Handy. It makes no sense except in a correlative way, like arguing that trains go hand in hand with racism. One could write volumes about that connection. I guess we have to tear up all the train tracks and find some other way to move things around.

        We do, however, bring the issues of race and class up for discussion. And why not?  These are quite relevant issues to be discussed that apologists for the current system prefer to ignore.

        For the same reasons that cultural conservatives like to bring up “family values”. Some of them are very sincere about it, and it’s an extremely useful wedge issue for their cause. Someone can disagree with them and still be a wonderful mother. Not so with you?

        As to your implication that there are Marxists hiding behind every pillar and post at institutions of higher learning: nonsense!

        Just like there weren’t Evangelicals hiding behind every pillar and post of 1950s high schools. So…no problem?

        Go ahead and take a poll as to how many  educators use any of Marx’s writings (or Lenin’s, or Trotsky’s, etc, etc) in a high school classroom.

        Why are we suddenly switching the argument to high school? The whole point was that this was a college-level phenomenon making a rare appearance in a high school context.

        Take another poll and ask MAS students how much time they spend studying control of the means of production.  It shouldn’t take long.

        And ask how many high school kids pre-1950s spent school time studying the resurrection. Neither Marxism nor Christianity are such narrow traditions of thought.

        What this comes down to is that without any knowledge of Marxism other than the oft-repeated message that “it’s bad”, the right wing has decided to label anybody to the left of Hitler as a Marxist.

        Hyperbole and gross generalizations aside, I will grant that there are too many fools out there who simply parrot stereotypes that they have been taught to believe. It exists on all sides. Most people think the ones on the other side are simpletons, and the ones on their side are somehow wonderfully insightful.

        It sells papers and fires up the faithful, but it ain’t the truth.

        I’m continually amused by people who profess cynicism of media…unless it comes from a source with the same values as them. Then they eat it right up and call that Truth. Hint: EVERYBODY does that. Remember the Navy SEALS story? Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right.

      • leftfield
        May 14, 2011

        “There is no such thing as a neutral educational process.  Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes “the practice of freedom”, the means by which men and women deal creatively with reality and discover how to transform their world.” 

        Richard Shaull
        Foreward to Pedagogy of the Oppressed

        As to the education of young people within and without of high school and within and without MAS, this I believe.  And I believe MAS in its current form can lead to “the practice of freedom”.  

         Yes, it is true that I am an ideologue every bit as devoted to my cause as the religionists and the reactionaries are devoted to theirs.  So, the comparisons you make regarding my intransigence and theirs are valid.  But, no I will not accept the equivalence you propose between the study of Marxism in higher education or even in high school to the presence of religion in schools.  One is a tool of the oppressor and one is a potential instrument of liberation.  You do get to decide which is which for yourself, but sooner or later, kitty, you have to stand on one side of the barricade or another.  Even if you insist otherwise, history and fate will put you on one side or another.  Your “insight” that we are all fools serves to elevate you above us in your own opinion, but does not lead anywhere else objectively or in terms of self-realization.   The only things you seem to stand for are anti-Marxism and anti-religion in public schools. 

        If you do not believe that race and class are relevant, then yes, you can still be a wonderful mother. 

        The truth is, kitty, when I look out my window upon the world, I see an entirely different view than you do.  You are welcome to continue to interpret reality as you see it.  I will do the same.    

      • kitty
        May 14, 2011

        We disagree on much, but that was well said. (Although the Shaull quote is simplistic puffery that could have just as easily been spoken by an Eastern Bloc pro-capitalist dissident.)

      • Donna Gratehouse
        May 14, 2011

        kitty, are you as concerned about the numerous acolytes of Leo Strauss and Milton Friedman who preach free market worship and Shock Doctrine predatory capitalism in undergrad economics courses and MBA programs across the land?  

        Nah, probably not.

      • kitty
        May 14, 2011

        No, but let me know when they become core classes in a high school curriculum. And let me know when Friedman becomes as foundational as Grasci in critical studies courses. But in an MBA program? Really?

      • kitty
        May 14, 2011


      • leftfield
        May 16, 2011

        If you’re talking about critical race theory, I’m not aware that Gramsci has anything to say about this.  You will certainly find references to “oppression”.  I think this is like some kind of key word for the right wing.  They see or hear the word “oppression” and immediately translate it in their minds to “Marxism”.

      • kitty
        May 16, 2011

        No, I do understand that Gramsci predated Critical Race Theory. But his conception of a struggle against the cultural hegemony of capitalism is a common foundational principle in critical studies. Labeling of his work as Marxist is not in any way inaccurate, nor is it meant as a pejorative.

    • leftfield
      May 13, 2011

      Thanks, Shane for your input.  This reflects my understanding of the issue, but there are more players now than a Russian novel and it’s hard to keep them all straight.

      • shane
        May 13, 2011

        LOL…That’s true. There’s layers of issues – like an onion –  happening here! Russian novel – so true.

  5. bill
    May 13, 2011

    Thanks for asking the tough questions. You will be attacked for doing so, (just as everyone else who has raised any questions about Raza classes has been attacked), but hang tough. Keep standing up for truth and objectivity regardless of the mindless criticisms and attacks from those on the extreme left who would rather destroy public education in Arizona than give up the ability to indoctrinate students in these classes.

    • Pamela Powers
      May 14, 2011

      Yes, I will continue to ask the tough questions– until someone on the pro-MAS side dares answer them– and yes, I will continue to be attacked for speaking truth to power– as John Ward was and continues to be attacked.

      • leftfield
        May 14, 2011

        One of Mr. Ward’s complaints was that “these classes are teaching children that this is a racist country”.  I guess that means the classes are doing what they should – exposing students to the truth and investigating it.  If you are going to tell me that this isn’t a racist country, then you really need some educating yourself.  Take the white privilege spectacles off and try looking at things from another perspective. 

        If the kids come out of there and they’re just angry, then the teachers haven’t done them much good.  But if they come out of there like many obviously have, with the motivation to change the status quo, then those teachers and students have every reason to be very proud of themselves.   If they come out of the class hating white people in general, then again, they haven’t been well served.  But if they come out knowing that the system is racist, that white privilege is real and they are determined to fight racism and thereby make this a better world for all of us, then we’ve all been well served.   

      • Pamela Powers
        May 14, 2011

        I am defending Mr. Ward’s right to free speech.

        If the kids come out of there and they’re just angry, then the teachers haven’t done them much good. But if they come out of there like many obviously have, with the motivation to change the status quo, then those teachers and students have every reason to be very proud of themselves. If they come out of the class hating white people in general, then again, they haven’t been well served.

        I agree with what you say here. I actually don’t care if they are teaching revolution or Marxism or the evils of capitalism (although most people would not see those subjects as core high school curriculum). My biggest issues with MAS and the supporters is their flight from transparency (particularly in financial records); their use hyper-spin to sell the No Compromise stance; and their use of bullying to squelch different opinions and deflect honest questions. The journalist in me has to ask, “why?” Don’t these tactics make you a tiny bit suspicious?

        Don’t play the white privilege card with me. That only applies to me in the Three Sonorans’ vivid imagination. I grew up in a blue collar household. My Dad was a union factory worker who held 2 jobs most of his life and died young; my Mom also worked to make ends meet. The four of us lived in a very tiny house in a small rust belt town in one of the most diverse parts of Ohio. Everything I have, I struggled for. There has NEVER been a silver spoon in my mouth.

      • leftfield
        May 14, 2011

        My comments were not directed at you, Pam.  They were not directed at anyone in particular, I just had the thoughts I expressed when you mentioned John Ward’s name. 

        Nonetheless, I don’t know enough about the transparency issue you refer to vis a vis the financial records to have an opinion.   I can see this being a valid concern, however.  The “No Compromise” stance is my stance, so that’s a non-starter for me.  Bullying?  I think you should be directing that accusation at Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio; both are classic bullies.  This is a fight; it is no longer a discussion.  I fear it is too late for it to become a discussion again.   It was probably too late as soon as Horne and Russell acheived unchecked power.  So, if cyber-bullying turns out to be the worst of it, then we can all breathe a sigh of relief. 

        I think you would do well to do some reading into White Privilege.  It has not to do with coming from a working class background.  It does not imply that your life has been easier than others or that you do not deserve whatever material success you acheive.  The name to google is Tim Wise.  I’m not saying it will change anyone’s position on this issue, but it is fascinating to learn about and you could be one of a very small group of white people who even know what it is.     

      • Hoosier Woman
        May 16, 2011

        What exactly is the “status quo”? That “other races” besides the whites have suffered and been held down by the horrible white man? That the “white privilege” is the only ones that can be racists? From your last comment Leftfield you show your racism. The new “status quo” is to hate the white man.  OR the “white privilege” is to be squashed and defeated? The new “status quo” is that “other than white” races should rise up and revolt against whites and the government, right?Racists are not ONLY white people…….

  6. Three Sonorans
    May 13, 2011

    100% of the data suggests MAS is successful. How successful is another topic.
    0% of the data suggests that making MAS into electives will help out a disadvantaged and underrepresented minority. 0% of the data suggests Mexican-American History does not satisfy state standards in social sciences.

    Let’s start with these simple FACTS.

    • shane
      May 13, 2011

      Abie, apparently MAS is being criticized for teaching Marxism. I think that’s what Kitty is saying (see above). Pamela sent me a link to J. Munger who is one accusing MAS teachers of promoting Marxism/Communism. Here is my response to Munger’s article which I read this morning.

      <<The only book title he [Munger] mentions is *Occupied America” by Rodolfo Acuna (tilde missing). I included a reading from this very same title in my own book of readings. My intention was not to convert everyone to communism (!) by including this writer in my book. I simply wanted to show the diversity of opinion about the status of Mexican Americans in the U.S. Maybe the MAS teachers had the same intent. I’d really like to see the book list. And I agree that putting the list online is better than actually sending out books – that’s too expensive.>>

      Btw, my book is available in the Pima County public library and at Pima CC library.  Abie, do you know how I might get to see a list of books that are used in the MAS course?  I’m very curious to see how it matches up to my book’s bibliography. Thanks.

    • cruz
      May 14, 2011

      Successful at breeding hatred and racial discourse among the people of Tucson and State of Arizona. It’s not all about the color of your skin or your last name it’s about you as a person – your character – PLAIN AND SIMPLE FACTS.

  7. kitty
    May 13, 2011

    The issue isn’t reducible to one of simple Marxist indoctrination. Historically teachers haven’t had to be particularly religious to proselytize virtues of “God and Country”, wherein “patriotic” ideals are intertwined with a bias toward Christianity. They weren’t necessarily seeking to bring about a religious conversion in their students.

    Marxism functions now as Christianity has in the past, as an ideological validation for political bias. It operates at the intersection of Class Revolution and Critical Race Theory, and is treated as a truism in many areas of academia.

  8. Pingback: Former Mexican American Studies teacher and whistle blower John Ward files defamation suit - Tucson Progressive

  9. Jim Hannley
    May 14, 2011

    We must get this issue behind us. We need to create a united front to support public education in our community. That means substantial funding. We need to demand adequate funding to deliver the highest quality education available to the widest number of children and adolescents in our community. We need to demand clear curricular objectives grade by grade. We need to know that a minimum scholastic content will be delivered to all of the young people in our community. They are our future. They can be an asset of incredible value; creating much common wealth for us or they can become a tragic and extremely expensive liability for us. We are swatting at flies while we sink into a morass of quicksand.

    • Pamela Powers
      May 16, 2011

      We are swatting at flies while we sink into a morass of quicksand.


    • leftfield
      May 16, 2011

       “We need to create a united front to support public education in our community”.

      Different battle; same enemy and same war.  We also need a united front to support MAS.  The attacks on MAS are a part of the attacks on public education as well as a part of the attacks on the Latino community.   You’ll not get your united front by referring to the struggle over MAS as “swatting at flies”, thereby trivializing the significance of MAS.  You’ll only alienate potential allies. 

  10. joker
    May 15, 2011

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I am absolute aghast at the coverage local media have given this story. If this is today’s journalism, I’m ready to stop reading anything and never watch news shows again. It’s not even close to accurate.
    Which brings me to the point of education – critical thinking and problem solving skills. That’s what a good K-12 education should do for our children. Like you, I have been asking for the facts of the MAS program for years. The TUSD board has been a miserable failure in this regard. Why did they wait for a law to be written and passed before a complete evaluation of the program? What about other programs? You cannot rely on test results to evaluate curriculum. Anything and everything can be improved at some level.
    With regard to the MAS program, I ask, have these teachers found the holy grail for chicano / chicana students? If it really is that effective, let’s take the method and roll it out district wide. If it works for MAS, it should work elsewhere, right? Yet, the only “data” I have found is “qualitative data”. In fact, Dr. Romero’s dissertation presents student interviews as the basis for this proof. I have not read his dissertation, but I have read the abstract. Someone needs to prove their point.
    I was amazed when one of the board members did NOT know the ethnic makeup of the district. That information is publicly available. Why did they not know?
    Graduation rates … well, they are not good. Here’s the data from TUSD. Just look for TUSD stats, you can find them.
    For all high school students – 4 year graduation rate:
    2006 – 84.9%
    2007 – 84.64%
    2008 – 82.11%
    2009 – 80.7%
    2010 – 82.49%
    For Hispanic high school students – 4 year graduation rates
    2006 – 81.01
    2007 – 80.89%
    2008 – 77.57%
    2009 – 76.26%
    2010 – 79.49%
    Sadly, the graduation rates for Native Americans are even lower. Readers can find the data and review it.  Here’s the data source:
    If I have typo, it’s my fault, but I double checked the  data before posting.
    We need facts, not opinions, I want a results driven education system in Tucson – with or without MAS. If it’s proven effective, it deserves to remain a part of the curriculum. If not, then it needs to be improved to remain in the district curriculum. But, where are the facts?
    Better yet, journalism … where are the journalists?

    • Pamela Powers
      May 16, 2011

      We need facts, not opinions, I want a results driven education system in Tucson – with or without MAS. If it’s proven effective, it deserves to remain a part of the curriculum. If not, then it needs to be improved to remain in the district curriculum. But, where are the facts?

      I totally agree. That’s why I wrote this article.

      • joker
        May 16, 2011

        Here’s the true lunacy of the situation.

        Proponents of the program have not provided sufficient data to prove the thesis and validate their argument.

        The school board did NOT establish any metrics for these programs several years ago.  It’s not like MAS is a new issue.

        Because neither party acted in favor of quality education, it is now left in the hands of the state to decide the programs’ fate.

  11. joker
    May 15, 2011

    My comment is posted twice, because it was not visible today. May 15th. I received an error message last evening. So, I assumed it was lost in cyberspace.

    My apologies to readers.

    • Pamela Powers
      May 16, 2011

      Yes, this is an annoying glitch. No worries. I deleted the dupe.

  12. Fraser007
    May 16, 2011

    Its interesting watching the left beat up on the left. (as in the Three Sonorans recent blog). How does it feel to get beaten up by the Three Sonorans. Guess you didnt tow the line set by the Three Sonorans. Didnt know that he ran your blog site too.
    Stand up to him. I may not agree with you but I dont want to see you bullyed by that thug. But I guess he cant “ban” you like he does people he does not agree with.

    • Pamela Powers
      May 16, 2011

      Thanks, Fraser. I believe in free speech, transparency, and freedom of the press. I didn’t realize those ideals were so dangerous. Don’t worry, I got just enough Irish in me to stand up to the bullying (which has been going on for weeks– ever since I dared post Stegeman’s whole proposal.)

      The only comments I block on my blog are those that are just name calling (with no other content) or physical threats (to anyone). Different opinions just make the conversations livelier, although I’ll admit that sometimes the conversations range from highly intellectual to just plain wacky. 🙂 But that’s America.

      • leftfield
        May 16, 2011

        “I believe in free speech, transparency, and freedom of the press.”

        Hard to argue against that position. 

        You do realize, don’t you, Pam, that the majority of posters applauding your position are the same group of AWM opposing MAS?  They are not really speaking in support of “free speech, transparency and freedom of the press” so much as they are welcoming you, temporarily.  

        BTW – has the PDA taken a united position on this issue?  If so, what is it?   

      • Fraser007
        May 16, 2011

        We will defend your free speech. Even yours Leftfield.

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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