Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Save Ethnic Studies in Arizona

For the past four years, Arizona Superintendent of Public Schools,
Tom Horne, and the Arizona State Legislature have relentlessly attacked the Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) Mexican American Studies Department (MASD). Tom Horne and the Arizona State Legislature have accused that Mexican American Studies classes are: “promoting the overthrow of the United States Government; promoting resentment toward a race or class of people; designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group; and advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals ”

This past May 11, 2010, AZ Governor Jan Brewer, signed into law AZ HB 2281, the anti-Ethnic Studies law, which will in effect eliminate TUSD’s MASD on December 31, 2010. A major provision of the law calls for a 10% withholding of the State of Arizona’s monthly allotment to TUSD if MASD continues to teach Chicano Studies classes.  Speakers for the teachers, Sean Arce and Curtis Acosta said  after exhausting our efforts through lobbying, community activism, and public relations, we are left with no other option than to 
 file a federal injunction in the Federal District Court in Arizona to stop AZ HB 2281.  They are (photo: Curtis Acosta)                                               currently suing the state and the school district. 

The Ethnic Studies program in Tucson was developed with the input of university students, community members and local teachers.  Together they developed a Mexican American studies curriculum focusing on culturally relevant and historically relevant materials to overcome the persistent high drop out rates and the lack of college going by Raza students.   This program has become the largest Mexican American studies program at a high school level in the U.S. And, it is under attack by Republicans in Arizona.

The program is the focus of a soon to be released film, “Precious Knowledge.” Teachers from the school program are available for speaking opportunities around the nation.  The two speakers at the Sacramento event –Sean Arce and Curtis Acosta-  were clear, articulate, knowledgeable, inspiring and engaging.  

The Raza Studies educators will serve, as a collective of plaintiffs in filing an injunction in Federal District Court to stop AZ HB 2281 from going into effect. This legal effort will require an enormous amount of financial and human resources in order to be effective in legally challenging AZ HB 2281. As a consequence, they  will be embarking on a national fundraising campaign to raise consciousness and resources for our “Save Ethnic Studies” Defense Fund to defeat AZ HB 2281.

 Since the passage of SB 1070, the anti immigrant law, Arizona has become ground zero in the several campaigns against immigrants and now against Chicano/Latino teachers and students.
The participants can be reached at www.SaveEthnicStudies.org

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