The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is in a contentious fight with the state of Arizona over its controversial Mexican-American Studies program. A state law went into effect in Arizona on January 1, 2011, banning the teaching of ethnic studies in K-12 schools. It was prompted by an investigation into TUSD’s ethnic studies curriculum by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne when he was State Superintendent of Schools.
The program is known as “raza studies,” which means race studies, championed by organizations like the far left organization National Council of La Raza. The course does not simply teach Latino youth about their heritage, it goes well beyond that. The textbooks teach Latino youth that they are mistreated by America, training them to become radical anti-American activists. Textbooks include “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and “Occupied America.” Another text "gloats over the difficulties our country is having at enforcing its immigration laws." Benjamin Franklin is vilified as a racist. White people are referred to as “gringos” and “oppressors” of Latino people. “Privilege” is described as related to a person’s ethnicity.
At a TUSD school board meeting on May 10, one upset mother read excerpts from the textbook “An Epic Poem,” including,
My land is lost and stolen, My culture has been raped….we have to destroy capitalism…overthrow a government that has committed abuses….to the bloodsuckers, the parasites, the vampires who are the capitalists of the world: The schools are tools of the power structure that blind and sentence our youth to a life of confusion, and hypocrisy, one that preaches assimilation and practices institutional racism.
Under the new state law, which was drafted by Horne, schools will lose 10% of their state education funding if they are not in compliance. The law bans teaching that advocates overthrowing the U.S. government, returning portions of the U.S. to Mexico, promoting resentment towards a race, and advocating for one race.
In January, during the last days of his term as State Superintendent of Schools, Horne found Tucson’s schools in violation of all four provisions of the law. Arizona’s new Superintendent of Schools John Huppenthal ordered an audit of the program earlier this year. 11 teachers and the director of the Mexican-American Studies Department refused to work with the auditors. Instead, they sued the state alleging the law is unconstitutional.
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