Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ethnic Studies under attack in Arizona high schools

Tom Horne, Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction, citing concerns about "values" and "ethnic chauvinism," is apparently seeking to dismantle a very successful Tucson Unified School District ethnic studies program.

TO HIS CREDIT, Mr. Horne does play a mean classical piano, is taking Spanish classes, and is also entirely pissed at voter-driven tax cuts that harm Arizona school funding.

HOWEVER. The ethnic studies program under attack has resulted in statistically proven success among high school students. The program is designed for Latino, Black, Native American and Asian students. Other students who are interested also take part. Quoting from this article in AZ Daily Star by George B. Sánchez:
TUSD's ethnic studies department was created in 2004 as an umbrella for its black, American Indian, Pan-Asian and raza studies programs.

The ethnic studies programs heighten students' understandings of different cultures, offer a critical perspective of U.S. and world history and bolster cultural identity for some, [Augustin] Romero [coordinator of TUSD's ethnic studies department] said.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, raza studies has significantly expanded during the past five years.

About 900 students are officially enrolled in raza studies classes at four high schools. Teachers who have taken part in raza studies workshops are able to incorporate the department's lesson plans into various classes. Romero estimated that about 1,400 students are served daily by the program.
(Sorry the Star's links only last a couple weeks.) Our man Horne, however, who also opposes bilingual education and women's studies, is concerned about "ethnic chauvinism."
...concerned about what he calls "ethnic chauvinism," which he described as "teaching people to make their primary personal identity the ethnic group they were born into rather than identifying as an individual in terms of character and ability."
Mr. Horne has a problem with an academically excellent high school program that's not based on his own culture, in other words! Apparently, to him it's "cultural chauvinism" if something the school district is teaching is not based on a certain culture.

The Star's Ernesto Portillo Jr. also rails against Horne and the xenophobic attack on education in this op ed piece. See also this Star editorial against Horne and his attempt to suck-up to Arizona bigots. The Tucson Citizen spanks Horne's ass in this timely editorial. The local Fox station has of course linked the ethnic studies program with protests against local law enforcement's handling of the case of a student who was not only "an illegal," but also (gasp) smoking pot. Link to Fox-twist here.

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