Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona
Tucson is a community in turmoil. It has been tied in knots for more than a year over the issue of how best to educate its children in a world of shrinking resources and high poverty.
Propagandists—both pro and con—have embroiled locals in continuous debate over the merits of the Mexican American Studies (MAS) program in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD). Fanning the flames of hatred and hyperbole, supporters and detractors have distributed MAS facts and myths nationwide through blogs, newspapers, public appearances, radio broadcasts, e-mail blasts, and social media. Charges of racism and white privilege are hurled at those who ask for program evaluation data or information on course content; from the right, MAS instructors are called “bullies” and “thugs” who are indoctrinating children with Marxism and hatred.
On January 10, 2012, rather than face a $15 million fine, the TUSD Governing Board voted to not fight the state’s legal ruling against the MAS program. MAS was found to be in violation of state law banning any school curriculum that promotes resentment against a race or class of people, is designed primarily for one ethnic group, and advocates for ethnic solidarity, a law that was created by former Superintendent of Public Instruction and current state Attorney General Tom Horne specifically to bring down the MAS program.
Contrary to what you may read in other blog posts, in Save Ethnic Studies e-mail blasts or on facebook, this law did not ban Ethnic Studies and it didn’t eliminate Mexican American Studies in other school districts (like Sunnyside). The law (which I hope will be found to be unconstitutional) was finely targeted by Horne and the Arizona Legislature to take down the MAS program in TUSD.
Although MAS was created to improve dropout rates among Latino students and may, in fact, do that at least among low income students (see graphics below), the program had been serving fewer than 1 percent of the 32,000 Latinos enrolled in TUSD. Since school year 2000-01, MAS has served 8656 Latino students and 1107 students of other ethnicities, according to data provided by the TUSD Governing Board. Between fall 2000 and fall 2010, Latino enrollment in MAS ranged from 153 to 1002 per semester, with an average of 412 students taking at least one MAS class per semester. During this same time period, the percentage of Latino students enrolled in TUSD increased as white students left the inner city district. In 1996-97, 45.4 percent of TUSD students were white, and 41.8 percent were Latino. In 2010-11, the breakdown had shifted to 28.9 percent white and 56.2 percent Latino.
What has MAS in its current format done for the thousands of Latinos in TUSD who are not taking their classes?
What about the Latinos in TUSD who are not Mexican American? Are they being served?
Does TUSD need another Blue Ribbon Panel like the one that created MAS in 1999? My personal opinion is: YES. Pasting some Mexican American information and history into other classes won’t cut it. For several reasons fighting to keep the MAS status quo also doesn’t cut it:
1) The MAS reach was too small to make a significant impact on overall graduation rates (one of the original goals);
2) Non-Mexican Latinos, refugees, and other ethnic minorities are not being served by the current Ethnic Studies structure (ie, Mexican-American Studies, African American Studies, Native American Studies, and Pan-Asian Studies);
3) There is conflicting evaluation data.
4) Gender has been ignored in many MAS and TUSD academic achievement analyses. (Graduation rates and academic achievement among boys in the US has plummeted and continues to decline. This is a trend that will have serious negative consequences on the fabric on American society if left unaddressed.)
Yes, there are many, many anecdotal stories from individual students about the value of the MAS classes. Let’s build on the positive aspects of MAS– the impact on low-income students (see graphics below), the self-esteem-building, the small class sizes, and the high teacher involvement. No program is beyond improvement.
What can we as a community to do ensure a quality education for all public school students? Let’s stop the name-calling, stop the incendiary e-mail blasts, stop the hype, and come together– all of us.
On this anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, let’s make a commitment to start talking and start building a better future for all children, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, gender, or sexual orientation.
For some insight into MAS program evaluation and the challenges facing TUSD as it moves forward, check out the following data slides, which were prepared from data provided by TUSD.
Viva La Raza!! Fight to the End! Kill the Gringo! Send Him Back to Plymouth Rock (all the preceeding statements were found in Ethnic Studies text books; I know because I saw them)
Hang on like grim death, Comrades! Let the Capitalist Pig Legislature take away 15 million dollars from TUSD for non compliance. What do we need of money?
Manifest Destiny was the European birthright…”The only good Indians I’ve ever seen are dead ones.” – Wild Bill Hickok…Jim Crow was considered necessary in the wake of the Carpetbagger south. All the preceding statements were found in my white textbooks at school as a child-I know because I saw them there. So why is it ok for whites to justify their history through this sort of teaching and not for Hispanics?
You need to stick to burning Mexican flags to “help” their workers, Warden-logic obviously isn’t your strong suit.
The textbooks you used as a child are no longer the ones being used today. This is the same old-same old we hear from MAS supporters all the time. The reality is that racism and discrimination in this country have gone down, particularly over the past half century, but the course of study used in MAS classes never acknowledged that one tiny bit.
Well, at least the Tucson Progressive has Roy Warden and the most racist people in town agreeing with her. Good job.
Whats your point?
Did you look at the graphs?
Draw any conclusions from the data?
Warden didn’t agree with me.
I guess you didn’t read the story or look at the graphics.
I appreciate the article you’ve written. I was very glad to have a chance to see some real data and to be able to draw my own conclusions from it. That’s the way Democracy should work.
I don’t think you’ll get much love from the fringe elements on both sides of the issue, however. Don’t let that worry you, though. As Thomas Paine once said, “Attempting to debate with a person who has abandoned reason is like giving medicine to the dead.”
At least you aren’t giving medicine to the dead.
I read the article, but the article misses the entire point. It is not the value of MAS that is in question, it is the content, and the content is, or has been, very racist, and biased in favor of select political systems.
I am adamantly opposed to MAS as it stands now, and all MAS across Arizona should be reviewed, as should all Black studies, Oriental studies, and general history/socio type classes not racial defined.
Neutral content, facts, and only facts will win the day. Racism, and propogation of polarizing points of view have not place in our schools.
One way to ensure neutrality it to have racial studies programs pass muster of evaluators not racially tied to the program. There should be nothing hidden; I should be comfortable with what our community is teaching, and funding, a select group of students.
If overall graduation rate is the same as MAS graduation rate, why do we keep hearing from the pro-mas supporters that the graduation rate is much higher?
Could they be cooking the books?
Should the 99.5% of the students lose funding because of the .5% that actually take mas?
You don’t need to be a graduate student in math to figure this one out!
Of course they should fight.
And the Dens that were complicit in this travesty should be primairied – Stegeman explicitly.
If them Dems don’t rid themselves of this racist scum, they will have no electoral success in Tucson for a decade.
This is a delusional comment. the only hope for Democrats is to broaden their base. Stegeman and Cuevas represent constituencies that Democrats will abandon at their own peril. Look what happened to the Democratic party when it abandoned the social conservative blue collar workers who became the base for Ronald Reagan. They have yet to win them back.
The Dems did broaden their base. The Repubs became the party of old straight christian white males, the Dems “everyone else” that old straight white christian males hate.
And the Repubs have had a good ride appealing to their base, but in the long run the Dems will have changing demographics on their side.
Yes “2o acres and a mule” has kept the poor under the Democratic thumb for some time- Too bad they are running out of acres and mules that belong to someone else to give away.
That makes no sense. You are referencing freed slaves – 40 acres and a mule (not 20) – and they were overwhelmingly republican. Can you trace the evolution of both parties?
Double it to forty, then
Now tell me all about how Democrats did not create and explode the population of “beholding” citizens- And can now abuse the poor since even the poor know where their bread comes from.
NO. Only democrats have waged war on poverty – with some success actually.
What you are refering to I suspect are humanitarian safety net programs.
Republicans have created many many more poor through the destruction of unions, lowering of standards of living to benefit corporations and the rich and more. Democrats want people to earn more … conservatives think that is bad for business.
… their bread – whatever that means – is life sustaining, not a way of life. I dont object to sustaining life while a person attempts to overcome a conservative expatriating their job to china.
If people are on the street it isnt because of democrats. Its because conservatives have expatriated over 50,000 factories (not jobs) overseas in about the last 10 years. Personally I include Clinton in that mix.
Ok so when all the thousands of “bad” life- long Democrats discovered they were just to horrible to continue in the party and suddenly all switched to Republican…
How horrible were they? Are we talking just George Wallace
horrible, or Strom Thurmond- horrible?
The deep south was democratic during the civil war. Democrats in that area had deep roots of race hatred, religious fundamentalism – lots of religious poison drinkers and snake handlers down there – and dislike for the federal g0vernment. They felt betrayed by the ‘liberal’ wing of the democratic party as a result of the civil rights legislation and were easy pickins for the campaigning Reagan. (He toured the south for about a decade convincing them to do what he did – switch from the democratic party to the republican party. As a result – today its the republican party that is the party that has large groups that are intolerant, racially bigoted, hating the federal government and religious fundamentalists. Its people ranging from Wallace and Maddox to the klan to the religious man on the street. Its not thousands – its millions.
Lyndon Johnson said that the civil rights legislation would result in the democrats losing the south for a generation – he underestimated. Those very same fundamentalist – many/most from the deep south – now run the republican party.
yea – old white straight christian males believe that everything belongs to them and resent any attention paid to anyone else.
That’s why they have their own party.
Personally I don’t party, but you are a ignorant…
It is for the very seem reasons, gay, non-white, non-Christians have their own party.
By the way, there aren’t 100 million old, straight, white, males in the country, so obviously other people want to be in their party too :o)
That is just an awful thing to say.
Republicans for the most part – with support from the progressive wing of the democratic party – were behind the civil rights legislation of the 60’s. The result was a sense of race betrayal by deep south (conservative) democrats. Reagan spent on the order of a decade politicking this sentiment resulting in the south becoming – for basically the first time – republican. That is – the intolerant and race hating democrats are now republicans. (Remember Reagan announced his candidacy in Philadelphia Mississippi)
The progressive democrats did the right thing KNOWING that they would lose the south, and Jacob Javitz couldnt be elected dog catcher as a republican today. I for one see the loss of the conservative racists as a good thing honestly. What you are suggesting is Clintonian.
Democrats crap on the southern poor now since the poor have been beaten into thinking that only the Democrats will continue the bread and circuses- So where else they going to go?
Actually the “southern poor” who are white are Repubs – look at the red/blue map.
My answer on the Mex/Amer studies program is this: NONE OF THE ABOVE. Here is a novel approach, Nothing has worked. We have had a year of sturm and drang and the cultures have grown hostile, angry and farther apart. Now it is law, the answer is now, the studies are dismantled and no one is happy. My suggestion is/was to publish everything, curricula, teachers notes, everything in the local paper and let EVERYONE read it. Maybe…
just maybe, it will blow over. After all, if the New York Times can publish the Pentagon Papers and that’s all over with (can’t even fin dmy copy anymore) what’s the BIG DEAL?
Let the public decide! I’ll wager this is much ado about very little, and it’s over in a week. Just put it in the paper…
Great idea…I’d be surprised if the MAS supporters would even consider this. They refused to hand over the vast bulk of their course materials to the state auditors and produced more than 10,000 documents that the auditors had never seen under the subpoenas issued by Judge Kowal. They obviously were hiding a whole lot of material as long as they could and only shared it when the alternative was going to jail for contempt of court.
I’d be very, very surprised if any “new and improved” form of MAS that didn’t substitute the so-called “color blind” approach in place of critical race theory would survive scrutiny by the Horne and Huppenthal cabal. And really, if that were to happen, what’s the point? To revive MAS in name only for the purpose of providing the right wing another platform to promote their ideology? Better to take the fight in another direction.
We can work with the right wing, within the context of the system as it exists, and come out of it with some semblance of social justice? Balderdash!
You are asking the wrong question. It is not a matter of Horne and Huppenthal loving CRT. It is a question of whether the use of CRT is good for kids. CRT is…as at least one UA professor on the MAS advisory board has acknowledged …inappropriate for public school students. It should only be used at the college level. Ask yourself what impact this issue has had on the support base for public education around the state. I would argue that if voucher proponents were orchestrating their attacks on public education they could not have asked for better friends than you and rest of the pro-MAS zealots. You have essentially joined hands with the worst politicians in the state to help destroy public education.
marty, if you think by conceding anything to the right wing will get them to understand and support public education, you are further out in the field than I am. You don’t get anywhere with them by conceding anything. You bury them and render them impotent. People like myself are the cause of the voucher movement? Nonsense.
Then let me ask you a question. The governor and the legislature are intent on replacing public school funding with more money for private school tax credits, aka vouchers-lite. Why is there no public outcry against this? Why is the public largely silent? The answer is that with the example of TUSD’s failures to even allow the public (except for the MAS zealots) to have a voice in its decision making until very recently, all that most members of the public see is the failure of governing board after governing board and superintendent after superintendent to exercise any oversight over this out-of-control program.
I am not talking about winning over the anti-public school crowd. I am talking about taking back the support for public schools that once made these right wing ideologues afraid to attack public education. You and your buddies have helped to destroy that public support. Given the choice between extremists on the right who adopt a pose of being in support of our values and those on the left who pride themselves on undermining the values most of the public cherishes…guess how the majority of the public is going to line up.
Any “color blind” approach would by definition not be MAS. Pushing the idea that the only alternative to the right wing is the unscientific stupidity of Critical Race Theory is one reason the racial determinists remain on the fringes of mainstream society. Most semi-enlightened people know enough to reject the idea that rational thought is a “white” value and that logical fallacies should be embraced as containing higher “truths” where matters of race are concerned.
But the reactionaries are not offering another alternative to CRT other than the color-blind approach. If you had another approach to the issue of American racism that you thought would be acceptable to the right wing in place of CRT, you should have brought that up a long time ago and saved us all this trouble.
As it is, you sound like you are rewarming the old anti-Affirmative Action arguments. The problem there, as well as with this issue, is that the right wing has no plans and never did, to replace either MAS or Affirmative Action with a “new and improved” version. Their plan is to kill both with the goal of containing any possible threats to white supremacy in this country.
Affirmative Action has about as much to do with CRT as the New Deal had to do with Stalinism.
Must be past your bedtime. You are not making any sense. Either you do not wish to address my point, you are avoiding it or it went over your head.
You’re right, maybe your point went over my head. You lost me around the time you started characterizing liberals who approve of affirmative action as “reactionaries” if they don’t buy into Critical Race Theory. CRT is fringe. It is a corrupt ideology. It is non-falsifiable doctrine that rejects the scientific method and repudiates the concept of objective critique. It is not the “liberal alternative,” it is decidedly anti-liberal and it is a golden exploitation opportunity. Just because reactionaries don’t like it doesn’t give it credibility. I know plenty of reactionaries who hate alcohol too, this doesn’t make getting wasted a sign of maturity. The real problem for you here isn’t the reactionaries, it’s the liberals who are getting fed up with the drunken tirades you hurl at them because they won’t abdicate their ethical and intellectual standards.
Well, now we’re getting somewhere. If I led you to believe that I “characterize liberals who approve of AA…”, then I have misled you. My beefs with liberals do not include those that wish to debate the value of CRT. In fact, I have some problems with CRT regarding the very issues you bring up. Like everything, it is up to continual critical analysis. Reactionary theories can and should be rejected out of hand, however.
Now, take a look at Wisconsin. Liberals there made the right choice. Instead of asking Walker “pretty please” to reconsider, they will attempt to remove him from causing further harm. Here, they are too ready to capitulate on the issue of MAS.
BTW – I don’t drink. These are sober tirades.
and they will hopefully lose ;o)
I didn’t mean to literally impugn your drinking habits (or lack of). I was continuing with the alcohol analogy and noting the tendency to berate friendly (i.e., liberal) bystanders in a manner similar to that of the inebriated when they aren’t given their car keys.
That aside, I feel like we accomplished something here. To the bar!
The last graph seems the most telling to me – regardless of income level, 2010 graduates who took at least one MAS class scored lower in reading and math than did graduates in their same income category who did not take a MAS class. Even though the sample size is small, it appears that MAS classes aren’t really helping anybody (except maybe the politicians on both sides).
Also, whether Critical Race Theory is right or wrong, it doesn’t belong in public education at the high-school level. It should always be taught in a college setting.
I couldn’t agree more. One’s personal culture should be learned for the most part at home. Mine was.
Hispanics had little to do with the founding of this country, the civil war, WWII, the Industrial Revolution, the building of America into the most prosperous, freest, and most inclusive country in the world.
Hispanics like to say that they are a large population in the United States, and that is true, recently. Our focus should be on the whole of American history, and the relative reflection of those who participated in that history from the 1600’s to the current date.
The problem I see with MAS is that wants to focus on the relative population levels of the last 30 years. That is fine. If they want a class on Hispanic language, music, culture, okay. But a whole studies program designed to split our community into us and them…it is not good for the community and not a good investment of our money concerning our state’s test scores.
“One’s personal culture should be learned for the most part at home. Mine was.”
Just like the rest of us, you learned about the dominant and approved culture ( largely to the exclusion of all other experiences) at school, at home, on TV, in most of the things you read, etc, etc, all your life. It was just so ubiquitous that you didn’t recognize it as such. That’s the power of white privilege. It is threatening to the health and welfare of members of non-dominant ethnicities to not know everything about the dominant culture, but really optional for the privileged to know anything about “the other”.
Not exactly. I grew up in predominantly black Newark, New Jersey. It was not optional for me to know anything about “the other”, though I was fine with it all; I really enjoyed growing up in a mixed racial community.
Your comment indicates to me that non-dominant ethnicities should learn more about the culture of the dominant ethnicity, in this case Hispanics should learn more about White culture?
Be careful what you submit here, the thought police are deleting posts.
I wish D.A. Morales had the intellectual courage to show me, and the rest of the world at large, just when I made any racist comment.
I hate racism in all it’s forms, whether it be the rancid rheteroic of of right wing white supremecists preaching racial hatred, or the babblings of left wing lunatics expousing the doctrine of ethnic victimhood and the need for solidarity based on that victimhood.
Racism and hatred is racism and hatred, irrespective of the color of the mouth it comes out of.
A good post. I wish “coming together” was easier than just saying it. Unfortunately, conservatives believe in the big win, no compromise. “Coming together” with them usually means coming over to their side. Unfortunately, that’s what it looks like TUSD is doing. Every indication is, TUSD plans to look over its shoulder at Huppenthal as it proceeds with the suspension of MAS and the modification of its other courses.
I agree with you that we need to incorporate more quality multicultural education, including Mexican-American history and literature, into more TUSD courses. But it’s not an either-or situation as has been portrayed by some Board members. It can be a both-and. There never was anything about MAS which stopped TUSD from improving the breadth of its history and literature curricula. They could have begun back in September, or years ago, if they were serious about it.
I agree, Dave. There are many strategies that could be employed to help students succeed. Rather than waiting for students to become disaffected high school students before trying to “turn them around,” we– teachers, schools, the community– should work to help them succeed from the first day they step into school… or even before.
Head Start, school lunches, recess, all-day kindergarten, reading by 3rd grade, tutoring, manageable class sizes, well-compensated teachers who have the tools they need…
Dont fall for the elites tricks. They must divide us in order to conquer. Until whites, blacks, browns, and all others realize that we are ONE, we will do the illuminatis biding for them. DA Morales, whether he realizes or not, is being used as a pawn in the game to foment dissent and to divide a community. This is a war of the elite vs the common man.
They will try to divide us into as many factions as possible based on race, socio-economic class, political leanings etc. Its easier to conquer once the people are divided. Don’t be an illuminati tool. Treat all with respect and love and realize we are all connected and come from the same seeds. If you preach hate and divisiveness publically you are a tool for the NWO. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a brown vs. white issue. Its not. Its an elite agenda to have people enslave themselves with hate.
Now thats something i wish was taught in schools.
Morales a pawn ?…. that’s laughable… he is a racist with a blog that distorts and omits the truth…. he and MAS adults prey upon impressionable and vulnerable children with their racist agenda…. he is to MAS what Jerry Sandusky was Penn State
Dear Ms. Powers-Hannley:
I just ran a google check on “Roy Warden Tucson” and was astonished to see that there were 2.4 million “hits,” etc. I did the same search with other prominent names, “Bob Walkup Tucson” for example and came up with a fraction.
Why don’t you come to Pima County Superior Court, Dept. 380, next Monday, January 23, 2012, and watch all the best lawyers representing the City of Tucson square off with me in Warden v Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup?
The issue is: During Call to the Audience, may the Tucson Mayor stop speech he considers “personal, impertinent or slanderous” in direct violation of the law as set forth in the following two cases: “White v City of Norwalk” and “Norse v City of Santa Cruz.”
In any event why don’t you ask me some questions and determine for yourself whether or not I am a racist? I’m obviously a controversial character; however no one has been able to report just why I am a racist, and hated by the right and wing alike.