Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tucson Unified School District Under Fire for Ethnic Studies Program

Give it up, once again, for Arizona.

At KGUN9-TV Tucson, "
Does TUSD's ethnic studies program violate Arizona's new law?":
Tucson Unified School District has insisted repeatedly that its ethnic studies program does not violate the terms of Arizona's new law placing restrictions on such courses. Are those statements true? A closer look at TUSD's teaching materials casts doubt on some of TUSD's denials. But even so, that does not answer the larger question of whether students have a right to study the material or whether Arizona has a right to stop them ....

What are the facts?

9 on Your Side took a closer look. One of the textbooks that TUSD uses in its ethnic studies program is Chicano!, by F. Arturo Rosales. The book teaches the history of racism and oppression in the United States directed against the Mexican, Mexican-American, and Hispanic populations. As the name implies, a large portion of the textbook is devoted to the Chicano movement that sprang up to fight social injustice and to push for civil rights. There are some similarities between the Chicano movement tactics that the book documents and the tactics some TUSD students have practicing recently.

The cover of the book features graphic art of protesters with their fists in the air. Pages 248, 249 and 253 feature photographs of Chicano movement members with raised fists. The photograph on page 253 shows a student with a raised fist sitting in a classroom with other students; the text on that page makes the point that Chicano studies programs in the Southwest are "the most visible vestige" of the Chicano movement. A review of KGUN9 News footage over the past week shows many TUSD students raising their fists in the same fashion as those shown in the textbook.

Page 185 shows a picture of students walking out of school as part of a protest. Such student walkouts have been a major component of recent protests in Tucson against the ethnic studies restrictions and against Arizona's controversial immigration crackdown.

And then there is the brown beret issue. Pages 193 and 199 of the textbook show pictures of demonstrators wearing brown berets. The book acknowledges a link to Che Guevara as an inspiration for the berets. Interestingly, the textbook does not explain who Guevara was. Guevara was a Marxist revolutionary leader and a major figure in the Cuba's communist revolution, revered by some as an inspiration to the downtrodden, but reviled by others as a ruthless killer who bragged about personally shooting defectors.

More at the link (via Memeorandum).