IMMIGRATION is an issue everywhere in the country, but Arizona may be the epicenter, and its schools are among the places where the various positions have their most practical effects. “PRECIOUS KNOWLEDGE,” Thursday on PBS’s “Independent Lens” series (check local listings), takes a look at how a Mexican-American studies program in Tucson was affected by state legislation to abolish such initiatives.
Latino students have a high dropout rate, and Tucson, the film says, has 32,500 of them. Its Mexican-American studies program was begun in part to combat the dropout problem.
The film, directed by Ari Luis Palos, includes some of the inflamed oratory we’ve come to expect when “Arizona” and “immigration” are used together. But John Huppenthal, then chairman of the State Senate’s Education Committee and now state superintendent of public instruction, is nothing but respectful when he visits a Mexican-American studies class. And he’s perfectly calm as he says, “When I look up at the wall and I see a poster of Che Guevara, who many of us think was a thug, and I don’t see anything on Benjamin Franklin, I have a problem.”