This past weekend was an historic one for the civil rights movement in this great country which still has a major problem with racism.
Over the weekend, scholars gathered from around the nation — from Seattle and New York to Texas and throughout California — joining with a delegation from Tucson that was challenging the constitutionality of a state law, passed a few weeks after the infamous SB1070, that banned Ethnic Studies in TUSD known as HB2281 at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The state superintendent at the time (2010), Tom Horne, said that while three of the four Ethnic Studies programs in TUSD violate the law, he would only target Mexican Americans to go after, and it has been that way ever since.
Horne also used “evidence” collected before the state law took effect to attack TUSD, and sadly this lawyer with no understanding of ex post facto laws became Arizona’s newest Attorney General just hours after he banned the program as his last act in office as state superintendent.
On January 2nd, 2015, the state superintendent John Huppenthal did exactly as Tom Horne did, making his last act in office an attack on Ethnic Studies in TUSD.
The new state superintendent, Diane Douglas, is doing exactly as John Huppenthal did when his predecessor banned the program. Huppenthal said he would take a step back and look at the program, but still ended up attacking it, just as Douglas is saying she doesn’t want to ban Ethnic Studies but is still holding TUSD in violation of the law until changes are made and the already watered down curriculum gets ever more stripped out.
The new TUSD superintendent HT Sanchez is also following in the shadow of his predecessor, John Pedicone, who also thought he could work with the state but ended up compromising with white supremacy which led to a takeover of the school board dais by MAS students on April 26th, 2011 to avoid the vote which would have stripped MAS of its graduation credits, which delayed Pedicone’s Plan. Unfortunately HT Sanchez has only until the beginning of March to sell out the basic principles of justice and make his own deal with the devil at the expense of standing up for Latino students in his district which continue to be under attack by the state.
This is a perfect example of how history repeats itself, especially when you ban history in TUSD and thus can never learn from it.
The Mexican American Studies program, along with books by Chicano and Native American authors, was banned three years ago in January of 2012, and ever since TUSD has lacked the courage, even now with a Latino superintendent and Latina school board president with powerful connections as the daughter of a US Congressman, to ever take up the fight against the state to bring back the innocent program that has been proven more than once to be successful in closing the achievement gap for Latino students.
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This issue was addressed on Monday at the Ninth Circuit and the Arizona Daily Star was present to capture the core of the racism inherent in Arizona’s actions that the federal judges seemed to be addressing as very troubling.
“If the state rejects a program that is more effective in educating children, doesn’t that suggest or strengthen the inference that the reason the state is acting is not because it wants to produce better educated children?” asked Judge Richard Clifton. “This program does that, according to this evidence. It seems to me it strengthens the argument that the state’s regulation is intended with discriminatory intent.”
Senior District Judge Jed Rakoff backed Clifton’s observation, asking if a Chinese history course in San Francisco that was open to all but was especially effective in helping Chinese students to understand their history would be outlawed in Arizona, to which Attorney Leslie Kyman Cooper on behalf of the state replied, “It could be, yes.”
“Why? How does that not suggest discriminatory animus — we don’t want minorities to develop any kind of ethnic pride?” Rakoff asked.
Cooper explained it is not the purpose of public schools to develop ethnic pride.
“Then you’ve got a problem with the potential inference that the intent of the statute is to ensure that certain groups don’t emerge,” Clifton responded.
via Arizona Daily Star.
The state of Arizona telling judges from San Francisco that teaching Chinese Americans about Chinese history and about Chinatown would be banned in Arizona appeared to hit at the heart of the judges.
In the video above we have taken the highlights of the hearing from both sides and you can judge for yourself whether you agree the state attorney defending the ban on Ethnic Studies fumbled on many questions, contradicting herself while trying to avoid the main purpose of the state legislature’s decision to ban MAS at the same time it was passing SB1070; It’s the racism, stupid!
The state also tried to make the case that student progress is “irrelevant” and that the state’s authority is most important, which paralleled recent arguments by conservatives regarding police brutality; that it is the minorities’ fault for not respecting their authority even as they perpetuate evil by killing unarmed minorities or banning their classes and their books due to fear of the loss of one iota of hegemony as Americans evolve out of its dark history of White Supremacy that still exists in this nation and alive and well in the state of Arizona.
Hopefully justice prevails at the Ninth Circuit, which will put 100% of the responsibility for no MAS classes in TUSD at the hands of the local school board and superintendent who can no longer blame the state for the racism it continues to allow to happen under their watch.