Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Save Ethnic Studies in Arizona tour

CFA Latino/Latina Caucus
“Save Ethnic Studies” Tour Background Information

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.  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.

Eleven Critical Raza Educators have formed a campaign “Save Ethnic Studies”.  The Raza Studies educators will serve, independently from TUSD, 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, we 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.

The California Faculty Association will host a delegation from the “Save Ethnic Studies” organization in Spring 2011. The “Save Ethnic Studies” presentation will include an overview of the work that Critical Raza Educators in Tucson public schools and describe the struggle these educators have waged against Arizona’s Legislative attacks on the Critical Raza Educators of TUSD’s MASD. The presenters will also cover the status of the filed in the Federal District Court to fight AZ HB 2281; and if the film is produced by Spring 2010, the documentary film “Precious Knowledge,” will be shown. If the film is not ready by the Spring, the program will include the 10-minute video.

The information on the Critical Raza Educator Work to be presented will cover: the Raza Studies educational framework (a framework published several times over in peer reviewed educational journals); the comprehensive courses that we have at the high schools (for the 2010-2011 school year MASD will teach 43 sections of Chicano Studies classes [1336 students] that fulfill the high school graduation requirement which include American History/Chicano Perspectives, American Government/Social Justice Education Project, Senior English/ Chicano Literature, Junior English/Chicano Literature, and Chicana/o Art), middle schools (Chicano Studies classes at 5 sites), and elementary schools (Chicano Studies curriculum integration at 10 sites).

Moreover, the educational efficacy of the Critical Raza Educators has been demonstrated by the students who have gone through our program for the past seven years who have: higher college entrance rates than their peers (84% for MASD students compared to the 24% national average for Mexican Americans), considerably lower drop-out rates than their Mexican American/Latino peers (we have essentially eliminated the drop-out rates for the students we serve); and higher Arizona high- stakes test passing rates than their peers who do not take MASD classes.

Most importantly, we have been able to provide safe educational spaces for Raza and non-Raza youth alike that nurture within them: a strong sense of both cultural and cultural identity, the understanding and agency to love themselves and our community, and a love of all of humanity.

A portion of the presentation on Arizona’s Legislative attacks on Critical Raza Educator’s of TUSD’s MASD over the past three years includes: AZ SB 1108(2008), AZ SB 1069 (2009), and AZ HB 2281 (2010). The anti-Ethnic Studies bill AZ HB 2281, the latest of these legislative assaults that has passed through the AZ Legislature to become law will be placed within the greater political context of anti-Chicano/anti-Mexican/ anti-immigrant sentiment in Arizona wherein SB 1070, which is currently being fought in the Federal Courts, and the heinous “anchor baby” law is being rapidly pushed through the Arizona legislature. The implications of these measures on both TUSD’s MASD and the greater Mexicano/Chicano community in Arizona will be discussed.

 An update on the status of the litigation of the “Save Ethnic Studies” plaintiffs in the Federal Court in Arizona will be discussed. This update will include current legal approaches, legal theory as employed by “Save Ethnic Studies” legal counsel, Richard Martinez (legal counsel who has led the fight against SB 1070 and who was on of the first attorneys to be heard in the filing of injunction against the State of Arizona in Federal Court), and the future trajectory to be taken in the legal injunction and litigation to stop AZ HB 2281 from going into effect.

To date, twelve campuses have agreed to host the tour.  Many of you have identified a campus coordinator and many have asked for specifications regarding the tour. The list below includes the names of the coordinators and the campuses that have volunteered, so far.

1.     Bakersfield, Anthony Nuno – March 2
2.     Chico, Susan Green – March 24
3.     San Bernardino, Nena Torrez – March 15
4.     San Jose, Rosalinda Quintanar – March 10
5.     San Marcos, Pam Redela – March 14
6.     East Bay, Luz Calvo – March 2
7.     CSULA, Rita Ledesma – March 3
8.     Sonoma, Ellie Galvez – March 23
9.     CSUDH, Ivonne Heinze-Balcazar – March 22
10.  Sacramento, Eric Vega – March 8
11.  SFSU, J. Ferreira, Gilda L. Bloom – March 9
12.  CSUN, R. RiVera-Furumoto, Theresa Montano – March 29
13.  Fresno, March 1  

Please know that we are coordinating the tour so that it to ends with the NACCS conference in Pasadena, CA March 30-April 2, 2011. We are working hard to keep this tour tight. CFA will be coordinating the efforts with the Raza Studies committee.
While the primary goal is to raise awareness of the Raza Studies situation in AZ, the campaign is also interested in raising funds to cover court costs. Therefore, we are requesting that each campus charge a small fee for attending the film showing/event.

This case has huge implications for all of us. Todos Somos Raza Studies! Todos Somos Ethnic Studies!

No comments: