January 23rd, 2012
11:22 AM ET

How Tucson schools changed after Mexican-American studies ban

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) –  Nearly two weeks since Tucson, Arizona's, Mexican-American studies classes were suspended, some books have been removed from classes, teachers are uncertain about what curriculum to use and some students said they'd like to give district and state school administrators some homework: Listen to the students affected by the decision.

"I just want to talk to them," said Nicolas Dominguez, a senior at Tucson Magnet High School, where administrators removed several seminal Mexican-American studies texts last week. "I want to talk to them about all of this, and I want to get to know them, because you have to get to know people before you can change them. I think it’s essential to become friends with the state superintendent and work together."

The Governing Board of the Tucson Unified School District voted January 10 to suspended its Mexican-American studies program after an administrative law judge ruled it violated a new state law and the state said the local district was going to lose $15 million in annual aid. In a district where 60% of the 53,000 students are Latino, some said they felt like Chicano or Mexican-American perspectives on history have become unacceptable.

This week, seven textbooks associated with the Mexican-American studies program were removed from classrooms, provoking claims of censorship. District leaders said they aren't banning the books, but have removed them from classrooms while their content is evaluated.

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soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Y.

    The site will not allow me to post another comment. I wanted to point out that I don't know any teenagers that have the logical and critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate these books and how they are biased. That is the problem.

    February 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  2. Nikki

    I went to school in Tucson, Arizona for all of my education through to my master's degree. There is no reason to have a separate class for Mexican American studies, it is around everyone everywhere. It is interesting to point out to those who are calling all of Arizona racist, the majority of schools in Arizona allow for altered schedules, such as zero hour where students come in an hour before school for a class, to accomodate religious or cultural studies that can be completed off campus in close proximity of the school. These include catechism, seminary for Mormon students, etc. If ethnocentric history classes are so important, then offer them off campus and strike a deal with the school district for these types of class schedules. And no, I am not Mexican or Mormon, I am a native of Arizona who is of European descent as are my father and my grandfather.

    January 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  3. seo

    Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to the whole thing. Do you have any helpful hints for first-time blog writers? I'd genuinely appreciate it.

    January 31, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  4. Y.

    These courses are not world history courses. They are specialty courses that focus on the history of Mexicans and their offspring in the US. The problem with the courses is that they encourage students to separate and isolate themselves from mainstream America. They encourage students to view all white people as racists and they encourage students to always view themselves as victims. It is also often the case that they don't even teach historically accurate information. A case in point: most of these courses teach students that "Aztlan", the mythical homeland of the Aztecs, was in the area that is now the modern US southwest. They use that as a justification for illegal immigration from Mexico in the present. Here's the problem: Aztlan never existed. There is no archaeological nor historical evidence for it. It's just a made up story used to support the idea that Mexican nationals have some kind of inherent right to immigrate to the US in violation of federal immigration laws. Students are brainwashed with these ideas. There is no critical questioning of the "facts" present nor of the political ideas that are espoused. That's why these courses are bad. It's not that they are trying to censor teachers nor permit students to learn. What they are trying to do is keep them from being brainwashed by old-style Chicano activists that want to overthrow the US, so that they can start a new nation or return to Mexico.

    January 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  5. Baycat57

    So, we can have African-American studies, we can study European history, the Greek/Roman Gods and Goddesses, make a fuss over St. Patrick's Day to have pride in OUR heritage (without understanding one bit of the Irish History around it), but not Mexican American studies? Forgetting of course, that at one time in history Mexico actually owned parts of Arizona? Of course most of you are thinking the majority of those students are illegals – which may make you prejudiced and bigoted if that's true.
    But above and beyond all that, it was unnecessary to take the books especially in the middle of the school year, in the middle of the school day, and banning books has long gone against freedom of speech.
    Saddam Hussein did much the same thing with the Berber people in Libya, and we condemn him for it, but not when we do the same thing ourselves.

    January 27, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  6. Wondering

    If these studies are so important to these students, why not study them outside of school? Just because a school system says they will not allow these classes to be taught during the school day, why can't these students and the teachers who feel it is important meet outside of school? Sports do it. Music programs do it. Stop complaining and go research what interests you....

    January 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      MEXICANS WANT TO LEARN MEXICAN HISTORY ??? GO BACK TO MEXICO AND LEARN MEXICAN HISTORY IN MEXICO--OR-–AGREE TO A TAX HIKE ON MEXICAN HOMEOWNERS ONLY IF YOU WANT THE CLASS....DON'T EXPECT AMERICAN TAX PAYERS TO PAY FOR IT.. EVERY STATES IS HAVING FINANCIAL PROBLEMS, A MEXICAN HISTORY CLASS IS NOT A PRIORITY...I'M A HISPANIC GUY, SO DON'T CALL ME A BIGOT–OR-HATEFUL.

      January 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
      • Emma Gold

        Just becuase you're Hispanic does not mean you can't be a bigot and that you are not wrong on this issue. School kids study world history – is Mexico not part of the world?

        January 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Emma Gold

      why should they have to study it outside of school? History is a subject that should be taught in school. It's the law in this case that is bigoted.

      January 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  7. Malena

    Jewish Day Schools advocate ethnic solidarity. The WHOLE curriculum is based on it. Why is it allowed in the Jewish culture, yet not in a "brown" curriculum?

    January 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Bill

      Ummm, because Jewish Day Schools are private, and Tucson public schools are, uh, public?

      January 24, 2012 at 9:39 am |