In Essence, Racism on Trial in Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Suit by Roberto Rodriguez
The Arce v Douglas ethnic studies trial, in Tucson’s Federal Court, is expected to commence in early 2017. The suit was filed against the state of Arizona, as a result of the state passing an anti-Ethnic Studies HB 2281 legislation in 2010. Yet for all intents and purposes, it is the discipline itself and, specifically, Tucson Unified School District’s former Raza Studies K-12 program that has been on trial since 2006.
That is the year when Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne began a relentless campaign to eliminate the program (created in 1998), charging that it promoted racism, segregation, the overthrow of the U.S. government and that it was founded upon non-Western values.
It was none of that, though students in fact were being taught to be critical thinkers; Enter Paolo Freire’ Pedagogy of the Oppressed, but not in Horne’s schools.
While the case has taken many turns, at the moment, the trial will focus on whether the state was motivated by racism while attempting to shut down the program.
Scholar: Texas Textbook an ‘Intentional Assault’ on Psyche of Mexican American Students
September 20, 2016
After reading the proposed Mexican American Heritage textbook for Texas students last week by Jaime Riddle and Valarie Angle, I can without hesitation state that it is obscene and extremely offensive. And beyond being unfocused, incoherent and a badly written book, it is also an intentional assault by non-experts and ideologues against the spirit and psyche of Mexican American students.
The truth is, I now feel dirty and in need of a “limpia” or a “cleansing.” It is that bad. It is actually not even a textbook, but rather, an anti-Mexican, anti-Mexican-American, anti-Black and an anti-Indigenous ideological screed.
It is also a very familiar narrative that has been employed by the state in the decade-long battle over Ethnic Studies in Arizona, a battle that should culminate with a Tucson trial in early 2017, focusing on whether the state’s 2010 anti-Ethnic Studies bill was racially motivated or not (Yes!). The book actually reads like the “clash of civilizations” narrative that former Arizona State Education Secretary Tom Horne has peddled throughout all these years.
Akin to Horne, the authors have conjured up a narrative that corresponds to their “Americanization” ideology; one that sees Mexican Americans at best, as “illegals” and as coming from violent and backward cultures and as peoples that continue to be in the way of Manifest Destiny and also their City on a Hill. Nowhere in this 500-page poorly researched book is there anything remotely positive about the rich culture and history of Mexican Americans. Their only salvation: full assimilation.
The final report of the Ruben Cortez Ad hoc Committee, presented to the Texas State Board of Education at their Sept. 6 meeting states: “the proposed textbook is really a polemic attempting to masquerade as a textbook.”