Tom Horne gave a press conference this past June 12 outside the offices of the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD).
Horne is on a campaign to shut down
the unique ethnic studies programs in
Tucsonans actually can be proud that theirs is the only school system in the country so far that has an entire ethnic studies department, with programs from kindergarten through twelfth grade (K–12).
And why shouldn’t such programs
exist? After all, some 69 percent of the students in the
Horne’s 10 am press conference was
preceded by a 9:30 am press conference inside the TUSD headquarters building at
At this earlier event, the
(One example of such achievement is
a young man, nicknamed “DJ,” who was alienated from school and had poor
language skills. The Raza Studies courses at TUSD
turned him around, as he explained in a talk he gave at the May 1
immigrant-rights rally at
The statistics show that students who have taken ethnic studies courses have better test scores than other students, said Supt. Pfeuffer, and he asserted unequivocally that these programs will continue and be expanded. He questioned whether Tom Horne didn’t have better things to do than engage in political grandstanding that ends up hurting the students.
A spokesperson for the Tucson Pan-Asian community, which has cooperated with the school system in developing the Pan-Asian studies courses at TUSD, mentioned among the positive results of this program that there are currently 300 students in the TUSD system learning Mandarin Chinese.
The tribal chief of the Pascua Yaqui nation also praised the American Indian studies courses at TUSD, which help the children of his people keep alive their heritage.
Richard Elias, of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, spoke of his own positive experiences as a member of the Chicano student movement, MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán), when he was in public school. Arizona Senate Bill 1108, incidentally, would have made it illegal for such a student group “based on ethnicity” to exist.
Elias assured the audience of 300
or more supporters of ethnic studies that as a member of the metropolitan
school commission he would continue his backing for the ethnic studies programs
Clarence Boykins, former head of the Tucson NAACP and current head of the Black Chamber of Commerce in the city, reminded the audience that a few years ago (in 1987-1988) a wacko racist, Evan Mecham, managed to become governor of Arizona and used the power of his office to abolish the Martin Luther King holiday in this state.
Boykins said this had the effect of bringing all positive and enlightened forces together, Black, Brown, Euro, Asian, and Native American. Mecham was ousted and Martin Luther King Day was restored.
The current attack on ethnic studies programs will also bring us together, Boykins said.
United, we can defeat this racist attack.
Now what did Tom Horne say, this man who is trying to gain attention for a run for the governorship?
He complained that the ethnic studies courses were producing “rebels.”
I guess his idea of education is “Good Germans” who “only follow orders.”
One of his points struck me in particular.
He charged that some book used in Raza Studies at TUSD allegedly cheers for the Mexican side
at the battle of the
Golly! That’s like siding with Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull against Custer.
As a kid in a “middle class” family
of mixed European background, growing up on the East Coast, in
Those heroes were Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Bill Travis.
In recent years I’ve been hearing a
different side of the
Once a year the 1950s Disney film
“Remember the Alamo” would be played, and the racist white kids would beat up
or threaten the Mexican kids, saying: “You Mexicans killed our heroes at the
Then a few weeks ago I heard more
about the Alamo, from a different angle, when I attended a talk by Ron Wilkins,
a professor of Africana studies from the
Ron Wilkins pointed out that ALL of
That was never mentioned in the accounts I had heard before.
But then I remembered. The dominant forces in the South at that time
(the Alamo and the “glorious
If the “rebels for slavery” at the
To me John Brown is preferable as a
freedom-fighting hero over John Wayne (who gave
A Chicano union brother with the
Machinists here in
So there is more than one valid way
of looking at the so-called
Another view is that settlers from
the South kept crossing in larger and larger numbers across the frontier into
Prof. Ron Wilkins pointed out that
any Black slave who entered the
Another point made by Ron Wilkins,
who incidentally also spoke at some ethnic studies classes at
We all know that
So let’s quit it already with the
“heroes of the
If the courses at TUSD help students learn some of the complexities of history, like the ones I’ve run across in connection with the Alamo; if students learn to look behind the patriotic rah-rah façade, which Tom Horne wants to preserve unquestioned, I say more power to them!