The audit was a failure, only analyzing 9 out of a possible 180 lesson units, or 5%, not enough to make any sort of objective analysis. The auditors gave the teachers advance notice of classroom observation, and allowed them to handpick students for the focus group. Nevertheless, Huppenthal found the program in violation of state law and gave the district 60 days to comply or lose funding. The program may also violate Proposition 107, the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, which passed last year banning preferential treatment or discrimination based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.
The TUSD school board is split over the program. However, at a hearing on Friday, TUSD Governing Board President Mark Stegeman and member Michael Hicks relayed their concerns about the program. Hicks said the program is not in compliance with state law, and Stegeman said the behavior observed in the course is almost cult like.
School board meetings discussing the program have been raucous, with students chaining themselves to board members’ chairs, which prevented one meeting from taking place, and the removal of several people from another meeting.
Former history teacher John Ward, who is Hispanic, is speaking out against the program. He taught Mexican-American studies for TUSD several years ago until it became radicalized. He objected to teaching an American History class which gave students American History credit for learning the history of the Aztecs, without teaching any American History. He was told to sit in the back of the classroom while an ethnic studies proponent without a teaching degree actually taught the class. Due to his objections, he was removed from teaching the class.
TUSD’s test scores are among the lowest in the state. Contrary to the claims of ethnic studies proponents, students who take ethnic studies classes perform worse academically than other students. A school board member asked the district’s statistician to compare those students’ academic success to others. The statistician found that students who take ethnic studies are less likely to pass the state’s AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) test than others. Clearly, the district would be better off transferring its efforts into improving academic scores.
The students are being used by a handful of radical adult activists with an agenda, who are employing classic Alinsky tactics to force through their extremist agenda. They cannot win through legitimate elections and democratic processes, so they resort to intimidation. District superintendent John Pedicone wrote an op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star exposing that adults were behind the students’ disruption at a board meeting, “Students have been exploited and are being used as pawns to serve a political agenda that threatens this district and our community.” In addition to filing bullying lawsuits, proponents have also sent threatening letters to various government officials.
It has been shown that students become angry and resentful after being taught this kind of propaganda. One high school student said she did not know she was oppressed until she was told so in one of these programs. The people of Arizona voted almost 60% in favor of Proposition 107 which banned ethnic preferences and discrimination. It would be an affront to the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., who used civil disobedience to defeat discrimination, if a handful of radical activists successfully use not-so-civil disobedience to bring discrimination back.