Tag Archives: Mexican American Studies

Federal court strikes down discriminatory AZ law banning Mexican-American Studies

Gabe Ortiz at Daily Kos has a good summary of how our lawless Tea-Publican legislature’s intentional racial discrimination has ended in yet another loss in court, and they are sticking the residents of Arizona with paying their attorneys fees and costs. Federal judge permanently blocks Arizona from banning Mexican-American studies:

U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima has permanently banned Arizona education officials from enforcing a Republican-created law that banned Mexican-American studies in Tucson schools, calling the 2010 legislation “not for a legitimate educational purpose, but for an invidious discriminatory racial purpose and a politically partisan purpose.” One of the creator’s numerous racist posts (our own Thucky) probably gave that away. While Judge Tashima had declared the law unconstitutional back in August, this week’s ruling “put the final nail in the coffin,” per Roque Planas:

Conservative lawmakers led by then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and then-state Sen. John Huppenthal, who later succeeded Horne, derided Tucson’s Mexican-American studies curriculum as an anti-American politicization of public school classrooms. To shut the classes down, they spearheaded the passage of a state law in 2010 that prohibited classes aimed at students of a specific ethnicity, that fostered racial discord or that encouraged the overthrow of the U.S. government.

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Más at Temple of Music and Art

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Más

by Milta Ortiz Directed by Marc David Pinate

Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.

Based on a true story. A community struggles to hold onto their history, identity, and humanity as they fight to save Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District. Más was commissioned and developed at Borderlands through a National New Play Network playwright residency. The script was further developed by a Tucson Pima Arts Council Individual Artist Grant, and was one of eight plays recently selected for the national Latino Theater Commons Carnaval play festival in Chicago.

Purchase tickets online at Borderlands Theater website: http://www.borderlandstheater.org/info/tickets-donations/

Box office 520-882-8607, purchase in person at 40 W. Broadway

(M to F, 11 to 5 p.m.)

MAS Redux: Tucson Weekly & MalintZINE Dare to Tell the ‘Rest of the Story’


Domestic violence_20b10e08ca
by Pamela Powers Hannley

Sexism and sexual violence cross all ethnic, racial, and class boundaries. This story focuses on the struggle against misogyny and sexual violence in Tucson’s Chicano community.

For years, the Tucson Weekly’s Mari Herreras has covered multiple aspects of the rise and fall of Mexican American Studies (MAS)– the chaining, the chanting, the demonstrations, the fundraising, the controversies, the personalities– but A Broken Community, the cover story of the July 18 issue, was one of the more fascinating stories about the evolution of MAS.

Maybe it’s because I gave up reading the Three Sonorans blog years ago, but I haven’t heard or read much about MAS since the former director of the program, Sean Arce, was charged with domestic violence back in December 2012.

At the time, the silence surrounding the Arce’s charges and what happened between him and his wife that night in December at La Cocina was deafening. As I wrote, “Bloggers who regularly post ‘news’ stories every time Arce catches a cold are mute, and none of the mainstream media have touched his story.”

A handful women bloggers wrote about the Arce story– most notably, a relatively new blogMalintZINE“Dear Sean”, a moving essay about machismo and sexism in the MAS movement, was one of the first few posts on this blog, and at the time, the author(s) was/were anonymous to the general public, myself included.

Herreras’ TW story updates us on this thread.

Rape and Violence

Without naming many names, Herreras gives us the back story on sexism, sexual abuse charges, and fallen idols in the MAS program, with accounts dating back to 2011 (more than a year before the December 2012 Arce incident). At the core of the story is former MAS spokesperson and former cover girl for the Precious Knowledgemovie Leilani Clark and the womyn of MalintZINE. In the early heyday of the MAS protests, Clark was everywhere. I heard her speak with poise and fire  about the MAS struggle at multiple events, and then… poof… she disappeared from the scene.  She was everywhere, and then, nowhere. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who wondered what happened to her.) 

To find out, follow the jump.

Herreras hints at an assault, suffered by Clark, but no details are given– most likely because no charges were made. Clark’s assault in 2011, the Arce incident in 2012, wide ranging posts on MalintZINE, and accusations by other Latinas affiliated with MAS are offered as a symptoms of deep-seeded sexism in Tucson’s Chicano community. When Latinas began to speak out about misogyny, sexism, and sexual violence in the MAS/Save Ethnic Studies (SES) community, friendships were broken, a propaganda war began against Clark, and people took sides. In a powerful essay, one of the MalintZINE authors describes how she initially didn’t want to believe Clark’s rape story, how their friendship deteriorated, and how she changed her mind. From MalintZINE

I didn’t believe my friend when she was raped.

……

The last few years in Tucson have been a struggle to survive. With the battles in our communities and legislation targeting brown people of color on indigenous land – we have nearly killed each other and the work and the fight and the fighting has made us all sick – susto. It deserves writing that will never end now that it has started. Through it all, I now reflect on two moments when I know I fucked up. I monumentally fucked up and hurt other women. When it first happened, she was and we all were sorting through statements and over ‘what does this mean to this movement’ shit. She may have at first said something(s) and later they changed which isn’t uncommon with sexual violence and doesn’t delegitimize what happened to her or her voice at any given moment. Sexual violence is haunting…

Misogyny in MAS

Courageous posts on MalintZINE go far beyond the TW in details and accusations of misogyny– including direct attacks on the main MAS mouthpiece, the Three Sonorans blog…

Bloggers at the Three Sonorans have, again, pointed fingers of accusation at Chicanas of Tucson. It seems that we (and a few men) are responsible for divisiveness within the community, for accusing rapists and misogynists of their crimes, for calling out the men and women of the Chican@ community for their hypocrisy and machismo and for demanding that Precious Knowledge be abandoned as a source of financial support by Save Ethnic Studies because a victim of crime directly involved with the film asked that it be so. And this is a bad thing?

Underlying the blogger’s concerns over a current issue involving copyrights, profiting and local artists is a broiling anger towards Chicanas who insist upon speaking about the inequities and injustices that they have experienced from within the community movement. And again, the blogger persists in attacking the accusers rather than naming the crimes and acknowledging that these problems exist. We do not pretend to know his motivations, and they don’t really matter. What is relevant is that he continues to imply that a woman’s concerns are not valid unless they have been legitimated by the community and, in this case, the men of the community.  The blogger points his angry finger at Chicana feminists as the problem, though he willingly admitted in a recent post that he knows little about feminism. [More here.]

This post says D.A. Morales (AKA the Three Sonorans) “points his angry finger at Chicana feminists as the problem”; MalintZINE also offers a list of powerful local women who have disagreed with Morales and gotten slammed in his blog– TUSD”s Kristel Foster and Adelita Grijalva and City Councilwoman Regina Romero– to name just a few. This pattern has been going on for years; his sexism goes far beyond Chicanas and a handful of political women. There also are posts that claim Morales is trying to intimidate them into shutting down the blog or at least shutting up, but MalintZINE certainly has not done that!

NEVER AGAIN

I am proud of these young womyn and their courage. In their collective, I see a radicalism and solidarity that I don’t see among young Anglo women. These Chicanas stood up to a powerful group of men with an equally powerful propaganda machine. Not only did they say, “Enough,” they have been spreading the word and educating others about sexism, misogyny, and sexual violence through their writing and through workshops and forums. (Details in the TW article.) From MalintZINE

It wasn’t through ethnic studies that I learned in lak ech, tu eres mi otro yo. But through two ethnic studies alumni, both younger than me, who offered me forgiveness and room to grow. Creating some Chicana girl code of accountability and responsibility. To taking care of each other and never assuming anyone else will.  To loving other women and loving yourself.

Solidarity forever.

Analysis & commentary: TUSD deseg plan, MAS, & beyond


Mas-logoby Pamela Powers Hannley

The first of three public forums on the Tucson Unified School District's (TUSD) proposed desegregation plan took place on Monday night. 

Fellow BfAZ blogger Dave Safier posted a very detailed first-person account of the forum here this morning, and today's Arizona Daily Star's also offered a thorough account that overlaps somewhat with Safier's but also includes other facts. (KGUN 9 video here.)

Safier writes from the viewpoint– as he admits– of commentator who has "expended thousands of words trying to explain the value of the MAS program". The Star reporter gives a newsier account of the meeting and offers some more basic background.

Why a third article? Here, I offer here some history, a broader analysis of the issues, and a call for action. Read more after the jump.

In recent weeks, I have read several blog posts that report the Desegregation/Unity Plan supports the fromer Mexican American Studies (MAS) program and could reinstate it (despite its legal status). When I read the plan (here), I saw no mention of the MAS program and thought: "Am I missing something? MAS is not even mentioned." This quandry was answered in today's Star.

"The desegregation plan spells out improvements the Tucson Unified School District must make in areas ranging from the hiring and retention of minority employees to recruiting more minority students into advanced academic programs.

"The plan, known as a unitary status plan, touches upon – without specifically naming – the controversial issue of Mexican American studies, yet that is the topic most speakers focused on at Monday night's hearing.

"The plan requires the district to help improve the achievement of black and Hispanic students by creating "socially and culturally relevant curriculum," including courses that center on the experiences of the black and Latino communities." [Emphasis added.]

This last statement in bold– I completely agree with. The multi-million-dollar question is how to accomplish this. Bringing back the old MAS program was the one solution that got the most play in Safier's article, the Star article, and on social media yesterday– with three MAS community advisory board members (including City Councilwoman Regina Romero) heavily promoting that solution.

Resist158-sm72Bringing back the old MAS would obviously satisfy a very vocal group of activists and several Latino politicians, but would it satisfy the goal outlined in the above bolded statement? What about the black students (including but not limited to African Americans)? What about non-Mexican Latinos? What about multi-racial, multi-cultural students? Shouldn't these underserved students also be covered under the plan?

Before MAS was shut down by the state, Ethnic Studies in TUSD was comprised of four components: Mexican American Studies, African American Studies, Native American Studies, and Pan Asian Studies. Each program was organized differently and had different sets of services. The MAS program was the largest (in terms of reach and budget– more than $1 million per year at its peak. MAS also was much more formalized than the other Ethnic Studies, with specific MAS courses that substituted for core curriculum classes in literature and history. 

As a former TUSD parent and current TUSD grandparent, the old system looks like an unequal hodge-podge with different services and classes being offered to Mexican American students, African American students, Native American students, and Asian-Pacific Islander students– not to mention white students and anyone else who didn't fit into these four administrative pigeon holes that were created more than a decade ago to improve the lives of underserved students.

The first MAS evaluation commissioned by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal didn't focus on whether or not MAS was in violation with the law and didn't answer the question of whether or not the MAS classes were teaching hatred for other ethnic or racial groups and/or overthrow of the US government, according to Huppenthal.  What the evaluation did say was that the TUSD board lacked oversight of the MAS program (and others). The board wasn't paying attention. From Huppenthal's letter

Ethnic Cleansers"… Inexplicably, the auditors did not review substantial physical evidence found in the classroom or on coursework syllabi and reading lists made available to them.

"Not auditing a substantial portion of information gathered was problematic when trying to reach valid, reasonable, fact-based conclusions. Furthermore, two-thirds of the MAS classes were not even observed, the observations took place during a narrow time window and TUSD was told in advance which week the audit would take place. Most audited classes were observed only once.

"TUSD failed to provide any student coursework from the MAS classrooms, 11 MAS teachers were told not to participate in the audit by their lawyers, and administrators from the MAS program refused to be interviewed.

"The external audit failed to provide a comprehensive review. Most educational audits are intensive and can last for six months. The auditors only spent one week observing classrooms at TUSD.

"Despite the limited usefulness of the external audit, its final report did highlight materials such as textbooks deemed to be questionable, partisan, inflammatory, and age-inappropriate. It also pointed out TUSD’s lack of a comprehensive, transparent and statutorily compliant curriculum development and oversight process in regards to MAS. This lack of oversight of the MAS program ultimately led to its violations of A.R.S. § 15-112 [formerly HB2281]…" [Emphasis added. Ethnic Cleanser image is published online with this article by Dr. Roberto Rodriguez, an assistant professor of the University of Arizona MAS faculty.]

Tusd enrollment (1)So… we have large groups of underserved students. We have a school board that historically hasn't paid attention to their statutory obligations in curriculum development. We have a state legislature that doesn't believe in guv'mint education and regularly raids k-12 funding to pay for corporate tax cuts and other ideological niceties. We have state government leaders that scapegoat non-straight/non-white/non-male groups with ridiculous and often unconstitutional laws. We have white flight from TUSD, which is resulting in school closures. We have a divided community on the MAS issue– as evidenced by the recent TUSD school board vote. We have an electorate that recently voted against extending the temporary 1 cent sales tax for education. And we have a school district with a multi-million-dollar shortfall– before the failure of the sales tax.

All of these issues are interrelated, and any comprehensive solution must recognize the interconnectedness of the multiple problems facing TUSD. Reinstating the status quo would pacify one group, but what about the bigger picture?

The bottomline is: an unequal system should not be perpetuated. I believe this is why the original African American and Mexican American parents filed the suit against TUSD decades ago. 

I end with a quote from a speech former President Bill Clinton gave in Tempe in October, when he was campaigning for Senate candidate Richard Carmona, because I think Tucson can learn from these words. Clinton talked about "shared prosperity" and a philosophy that says "we're all in this together… is better than you're on your own."

No-hate"Every life we let go makes the rest of us poorer, and the more we expand opportunity for everybody the more we build a great middle class for the 21st century. The more we give poor people a dignified, honorable chance to work their way into it [the middle class], the more millionaires and billionaires there will be becaus we'll all be uplifted…

"In every successful country on Earth, today, there is a recognition that we face a blithering aray of complex challenges, and in an environment like that, creative cooperation beats constant conflict every single time." [Clinton's emphasis.]

In a recent guest commentary in the Star, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild sounded the same theme. He called for the community to come together to strengthen education funding, improve literacy overall and reading comprehension by 3rd grade, and decrease drop-out rates. 

Tucson, it's time to put the "constant conflict" behind us and search for solutions that will give all of our citizens a "dignified, honorable chance to work their way into [the middle class]".

PS: There are two more public forums on the desegregation plan this week, plus you read the plan and comment online. All comments will be provided to Special Master Willis Hawley, who is scheduled to release the final plan by Dec. 10, according to the Star.

PPS: Alternative title for this blog post: Pollyanna tries to put the "unity" back into "unitary".

 

TUSD Unitary Status Plan: Multiple ways to comment (without leaving your house)

Post-unitary-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Parents, students, teachers, and activists have been abuzz in recent weeks about the new Proposed Desegregation/Unitary Status Plan for Tucson Unified School District (TUSD).

Mexican American Studies (MAS) advocates see the new plan as a potential way to bring back the program that was killed a year ago by the TUSD Governing Board, after it was found by the State of Arizona to be in violation of HB2281 and, therefore, in the opinion of the government… illegal. 

This week, three pulbic forums will be held, and after those meetings, the plan's public review and comment period will end on Nov. 28, 2012. Information about the forums and other ways to comment on the proposed plan (without leaving your house) after the jump.

You can submit comments and input on the proposed Unitary Status Plan in five ways:
(1) Speak at a Public Forum (see schedule below);
(2) Submit comments (here) to the Unitary Status Plan website at www.TucsonUSP.com;
(3) Send an email with your comments to comments@TucsonUSP.com;
(4) Fill out a comment form at any TUSD school, at a Public Forum, or on the Unitary Plan Website;
(5) Submit your comments by mail to: USP Comments, P.O. Box 41358, Tucson, AZ 85717-1358.

The three public forums will take place this week from 6:00 PM-8:30 PM. Doors will open at 5:30 PM.
Monday, Nov. 26: Tucson High Magnet School, 400 N. 2nd Ave., Tucson
Tuesday, Nov. 27: El Pueblo Regional Center, 101 W. Irvington Rd., Tucson
Wednesday, Nov. 28: Palo Verde High School, 1302 S. Avenida Vega, Tucson

This website is very easy to use. The plan is available in English and Spanish and is printable. Check it out– before Nove. 28. 

This is sort of a speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace opportunity, people. I'm warning you: no whining later about "lack of public comment". Now is the time.