MAS Trial Week 2: Tom Horne wants to ban ALL Ethnic Studies, Scholars destroy state attorney’s attempt to defend ban

We are now half-way done with the second week of the MAS/HB2281 trial that is being held in Tucson Federal Court (the busiest in the nation thanks to Operation Streamline), presided over by Ninth Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima, the first Asian-American to ever be appointed to the second-highest court in the land, the US Court of Appeals, and who once lived in a Japanese internment camp in Arizona as a child.

Since some parts of HB2281, now ARS 15-112, still remain on the books as constitutional after being challenged in federal court, the Ninth Circuit remanded case back to the Tucson Federal court to investigate “racial animus” as part of this measure, which would make it unconstitutional.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered a trial to assess whether an Arizona law that was passed to ban a Mexican-American studies curriculum in Tucson’s public schools intentionally discriminates against Hispanics.

The 2-1 ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the constitutionality of Arizona’s ethnic studies law, rejecting arguments brought by plaintiffs that the statute is overly broad and vague. However, the ruling kicked the case back to the Arizona district court in Tucson, saying enough evidence exists to require a trial to show whether the law was “motivated at least in part by a discriminatory intent.”

If there were evidence of discriminatory intent in the law’s design or implementation, the measure would be unconstitutional, the ruling says.

“It’s an important decision,” Richard Martinez, one of the lawyers who brought the lawsuit against Arizona officials, told The Huffington Post. “Probably the most important part of this decision is that the state of Arizona will now have to face discovery in a trial to be held accountable for the creation and enactment of this law.”

via Huffington Post.

The TUSD MAS program is the reason Tom Horne wrote HB2281 and he ran a campaign that bragged about how he “ended Ethnic Studies.” His successor as state superintendent, John Huppenthal, also ran campaign ads about how he “stopped bilingual education and now he will stop La Raza.”

Huppenthal took the stand for three days during the first week of the trial and his testimony was filled with racially charged descriptions, comparing MAS to the KKK.

Below is a link to an NPR interview with Roque Planas from the Huffington Post who has been covering this trial for years.


Monday, July 17th, 2017

This week began by being covered on the prestigious national news show Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: The Tucson Unified School District ultimately suspended the acclaimed Mexican-American studies program in 2012, under the threat of losing up to $14 million of funding if they allowed it to continue. The program’s suspension also included banning seven books that can no longer be used in the classrooms, including Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, Shakespeare’s play The TempestPedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire and Chicano!: The History of the Mexican [American] Civil Rights Movement.

For more, we go to Tucson, Arizona, where we’re joined by Richard Martinez, one of the attorneys representing the families challenging the Arizona law.

The hearing on Monday began with the former assistant state superintendent Cathy Hrabluk who Huppenthal put in charge of working out the details in banning the MAS program.

The MAS attorneys uncovered a wealth of emails that infer that the state was conspiring all along to ban the classes. One of the main sources for the anti-MAS “evidence” was Laura Leighton who was also in attendance. She would come to TUSD board meetings regularly and take excerpts from books out of context to suggest that MAS teachers were teaching students to kill all the gringos and to retake Aztlan. Yes, it is laughable but this is where the state was getting their information from and they believed all her nonsense.

At one point Hrabluk was shown press releases and emails that showed how confident she was in the Cambium Audit and how much she would trust the results. Then when the audit came back and found zero violations of state law by MAS, she then ignored it and called it unreliable. They kept the results secret for months before releasing it on the day John Huppenthal found MAS out of compliance with HB2281.

NBC News also covered the case on Monday:

Attorneys representing Tucson Unified School District students allege the enactment and enforcement of the bill has had had a disproportionate impact on Mexican American and other Latino students.

José Gonzalez, who taught several Mexican American studies classes to high school students in Tucson, rejects the idea that teaching about Mexican American culture and history creates resentment or promotes the overthrow of the government.

“What our program did, really, was focus on identity and making sure that students’ identify was affirmed,” he said. “If students have a sense of self, who they are, and they’re proud of it, then they do well academically.”

The Mexican-American studies program was begun in the late 1990s by a group of teachers within the Tucson Unified School District who were concerned about the widening achievement gap between Latino students and their peers.

As a way to motivate and empower Latino students, the teachers created courses aimed at offering a curriculum through the lens of the Mexican-American experience. They used the work written by Mexican-American authors and other writers of color that rarely appeared in the classrooms.

The approach appeared to work, according to a study conducted by Nolan Cabrera, a University of Arizona associate professor. The study found students who took Mexican-American studies courses were more likely to graduate from high school and pass standardized tests.

Leo Herrera, 19, said he took several Mexican-American studies classes from third grade to seventh grade.

“Being in the Mexican-American courses at a young age reaffirmed my identity and also reminded me not just about the sacrifices that my parents made, but the sacrifices of people before me,” he said.

Former TUSD principal Georgia Cole Brousseau has been attending the MAS trial and sharing her thoughts.

Witness this a.m. Was an associate superintendent for Huppenthal, now retired. Not contributing a great deal at all. Quite hung up on absence of curriculum scope and sequence and trying to defend her former boss. Not impressive at all. Ran into a fellow observer who says she knows “these kids were being taught to kill gringoes because she read ‘the book’.” She accosted me probably because I am a gringo. I disagreed with her and she was not happy.

At the MAS trial, where you all should be. The former state asst. superintendent has used a lot of “I do not recall” lines in regards to questioning about specific details when the ADE ruled MAS violated the law. She did agree in the end that a program that had been in operation for years, with good data collected that, that was improving the educational attainment of chicanos should be expanded. She’s also pausing a lot on the stand. Funny she also mentioned that that she didn’t think the MAS department supplied the Cambium audit team with full curriculum materials until after the conclusion of their audit. Hmmm wonder if she would’ve felt that way if the audit came to the conclusion that the ADE already had in mind, that MAS violated the law.

Tuesday, 7/18/2017: Tom Horne

Cesar A Cruz Teolol is an educator in the Bay Area who got his Ph.D. from Harvard. He attended the first week and drove back down to Tucson to cover this second week of trial.

#MAStrial Update -jam packed courtroom. Former Supt. Horne testifying the following; The MAS Program is “Educationally dysfunctional,
Pedagogically unsound,
Producing prejudice” because students staged a silent protest in 2006 and dared to raise a fist. Earlier he said the 1st amendment was a precious right, but somehow it only applies when he says so. His “views” are based on zero school visits, and no interactions with students and teachers. If I can paraphrase Malcolm X here “If you’re not careful, the newspapers (Hornes of the world) will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

Tom Horne is combative. Against all ethnic studies. Not just MAS. Says students were rude and extremists. Thinks raising a fist in the air is extreme.

#MAStrial Update 12:00pm Supt. Tom Horne admitted this morning that “equating MAS to the KKK” is indeed “hate speech.” Well that is the “hate speech” and that superintendent Huppenthal blogged about. Huppenthal is one of the chief ArchiText that ended Mexican-American studies. This begins to prove their racial animus in the States’ decision to shut down Mexican-American studies.

Gloria JH is a graduate student at the University of Georgia who has been following this case closely as part of her research.

MAS trial update: Today former superintendent Tom Horne repeatedly stated that his long term goal was to remove ALL ethnic studies courses, not just Mexican American Studies. His rationale? They are like the “old south” in that they divide students up by race and segregate them. He says it doesn’t matter that any student could choose to take any ethnic studies course because he believes any ethnic studies course is inherently designed for a specific ethnic group. Still, he didn’t go after any other ethnic studies aside from MAS because he didn’t want to stir up trouble, apparently. Didn’t explain why he only ran on “stopping La Raza” vs stopping all ethnic studies. Pretty amazing stuff, and we’ve only just gotten to lunch.

Edit, just to add, saying he wants to ultimately end ALL ethnic studies is Horne’s defense for why there is no racial animus in the ban. He campaigned on wanting to “build the wall” and “stop La Raza” (a direct reference to MAS) and was pro SB 1070. But he says because he doesn’t want African American Studies either, there is no racial animus involved (even though he didn’t investigate any other ethnic studies program aside from MAS). Very interesting explanation from the former AZ state Superintendent turned Attorney General.

Also pretty interesting to watch video of him calling Asian American and Pacific Islander studies classes “oriental classes for the oriental students” in front of an Asian American judge in a case about his ban’s racial animus.

#MAStrial Update- Racism on trial in Arizona. Kid reporter Amaru speaks about the testimony of former superintendent Tom Horne who admitted comparing the Mexican-American studies program to the KKK is racist. As our reporter stated, stay tuned and stay woke.

#MAStrial Supt. Horne is asked, “Do you actually think that we are giving up the Southwest in terms of Aztlán?” Horne: “We are not even giving up this courtroom!”
My people, we need you to come to the trials final days (Wed-Fri, maybe Mon) in this courtroom.
Stand up!

Once again making national news before local media covers it is a story from KWWL out of Iowa about this case:

The Tucson program began in 1998 and focused on Mexican-American history, literature and art in an effort to keep Mexican-American students in school and engaged. Advocates say students who participated outperformed their peers in grades and standardized tests.

The board of the Tucson school district officially dismantled the program in January 2012, a month after the law took effect, to keep from losing state funding.

Arizona denies that racial discrimination played a part in the law.

“The evidence shows that concerns existed that the program was based on a divisive, separatist, politicized pedagogy that taught students to see themselves as exemplars of an oppressed ethnicity rather than as individuals with the opportunity to control their own destinies and achieve their own goals,” state attorneys wrote in court filings.

(Article continued below)

Horne also said he found contents of the curriculum to be racist and to make Latino students feel like they are victims. He took issue with a classroom that had a poster of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

“You have a right to advocate for all those things, but not on the taxpayers’ dime in our public schools,” Horne said.

He denied that racism was behind the battle against the program and the law that ended it, saying he was a crusader against racism and that his parents were refugees from Nazi-invaded Poland.

via KWWL.

Apparently Horne approves of Mexican American children being immersed in English, and only as teenagers being taught to use academic Spanish to bring about bilingualism. Adalberto Guerrerro is still alive, I believe. As one of the 4 authors (Maria Urquidez, Rosita Coat, and Hank Oyama were the others) who wrote the NEA report which led to the national Bilingual Education Act. That report showed the consistent results of such an approach back in the early 1960s. Horne is unbelievably proud of having “destroyed bilingual education in AZ.” My stomach was so distressed by this man’s arrogance I left at 3:30. They had finished cross-examination by then. If there was redirect and re-cross, someone else will post what that was about.

Having served for several years as a Solution Team Leader under Tom Horne, I am amazed that one of our charges as we examined near-failing schools was to conduct significant numbers of classroom observations. He has such contempt for observations as “Potemkin villages.” Maybe that only applies when he has foregone conclusions as to what he will see and doesn’t want to see any thing that might change his viewpoint.

#MAStrial Update Day 7- The day ended with hearing from the testimony of Dr. Stephen Pitti, who is a historian coming out of Yale focusing on Mexican-American studies. The state made a futile attempt to try to discredit him and to try to discredit the field of history as a social science that can unpack the “code words” of racism. However, he held his own and ran circles on the state. Tomorrow morning his testimony continues. Later on that day we will be hearing from Dr. Angela Valenzuela coming out of UT Austin. It is powerful to see our people and our allies taking on the state. What a blessing.

Guess who went to court today? Sean and I were released from any futher testimony and are now able to attend the court proceedings including today’s examination of Tom Horne.

I hope my brother does not mind me speaking for him by saying thank you to all of you who supported us during our testimony with your kind messages, prayers, ceremonias, and love. It was an intense experience but we knew so many of you and our antepasados were with us. We both feel very lucky to have so many people who believed in our students, colleagues, and ourselves all these years. Mil gracias / Tlazocamati / Thank you!!!

There is still a long way to go before justice and restoration of MAS becomes a reality, but we wanted to take a moment to show our appreciation.

In Lak Ech,
Curtis — with Sean Arce.

Wednesday, 7/19/17: Dr Pitti defends MAS

#MAStrial 7/19 Update Dr. Pitti continues to testify! Reporter Amaru for All Power to the Kids News Network! Speaking about the coded language of racism and the State comparing Che to Hitler!

#MAStrial Update 11/19 10:30am Dr. Pitti continues on the witness stand. He is doing a phenomenal job of unpacking codewords like “Aztlán, Raza and MEChA” which are used by folks like former superintendent Horne to mobilize political support for racist policies like the one that ended Mexican-American studies. He also talked about code words for Mexicans such as unpatriotic, un-American, lazy, politically radical, criminals, dirty, illegal and welfare cheats.

The State had the audacity to ask the professor if the word “Raza” meant Mexican racism.

Then the State wanted to equate the Mexican-American studies program with communism and Marxism because they have studied Che and Freire.

This was a powerful moment in the court where Dr. Stephen Pitti flipped the questions on the State and thanked them for proving his point about coded language. That they, the State, make blanket statements like calling the Mexican-American studies program Marxist or communist for merely studying different movements and authors, is the coded language/ the smokescreen to try and demonize the program.

These are code words, through a fear-based perspective, to try to scare off the electorate in Arizona.

It is not working in the court room today. Today’s a new day, although the Red Scare tactics of yesteryear seem to always be at play.

More national coverage from the Huffington Post!

The former head of Arizona’s Education Department said repeatedly during testimony Tuesday that he hoped a 2010 law he spearheaded would eliminate all ethnic studies programs in the state’s public schools.

Tom Horne, a Republican who also served as the state’s attorney general from 2011 to 2015, made the comments on the witness stand in the second week of a trial over whether conservative officials discriminated against Hispanics by abolishing a controversial Mexican-American studies curriculum from Tucson public schools.

Republican officials, led by Horne, accused the teachers of the Mexican-American studies classes of politicizing students and fostering resentment against white people. But supporters of the program cite independent research showing that the classes encouraged college-level critical thinking skills and that students who took them scored higher on state tests and graduated at a higher rate.

Jim Quinn, one of six lawyers representing Tucson students suing to overturn the ethnic studies law, grilled Horne over his decision to use it exclusively to shut down the Tucson classes, despite their positive results.

But Horne insisted he wanted all ethnic studies banned from the state and wrote the law broadly enough to achieve that goal over time.

“We had a tough enough time with the MAS program,” Horne said of his efforts to ban Mexican-American studies from Tucson schools, which he launched in 2006. “I hoped to eventually eliminate them all.”


Our local NPR affiliate just wrote about this case Wednesday afternoon.

Many of the questions put to Horne focused on why, specifically, the Mexican-American studies program at TUSD was targeted, and not other ethnic studies programs. Questions also touched on Horne’s earlier efforts to end bilingual education in the state and replace it with language immersion.

Horne responded by saying he hadn’t been part of an “investigative agency,” and that the TUSD program was shut down as a response to complaints and a review of the materials, saying “it was the only one I had evidence on.” He said he had never eliminated a program that benefited Mexican Americans.

He repeatedly characterized the program as racist, saying that it was a “purely historical accident” that the program had adopted what he called a “radical” approach.

Supporters have argued the program did not promote racial or ethnic resentment and was open to members of any ethnic background or race.

via AZPM.

Also published on Medium.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.