Tucson school district just can’t quit racist curriculum

Eric Owens | Editor

The Tucson Independent School District just can’t quit teaching racism.

In 2010, the state of Arizona passed a law aimed squarely against coursework endorsing the overthrow of the United States government and stoking resentment toward races or classes of people. In a lawsuit concerning that law, at least two federal judges specifically ruled that Tucson school district’s Mexican-American studies program promoted “racial resentment against ‘Whites.'”

Now, Tucson’s school board has voted to bring back the very books that teachers used in the judicially smacked-down Mexican-American studies program, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

This week, by a vote of 3-2, the district readopted seven books as supplementary materials. Middle school and high school teachers will now be able to use the books in world history, American history and classes.

District officials are confident that teachers will use the books in ways that don’t violate state law.

“If I thought otherwise, we would be having a different conversation,” Tucson schools superintendent H.T. Sanchez told the Star.

Sanchez verified that school officials did not seek state authorization for the reintroduction of the controversial books.

Teachers from one elementary school and four high schools have already requested the books for their classrooms.

Two teachers who sought the books — Sally Rusk and Jose Gonzalez — formerly taught the in the Mexican-American Studies program that encouraged anti-white resentment according to federal judge A. Wallace Tashima and another magistrate. (RELATED: Federal judge: Arizona can ban classes promoting ‘racial resentment against ‘whites’)

As the Daily Independent notes, the texts requested by teachers include “Occupied America,” “Message to Aztlan” and “Chicano!

A middle school teacher requested a book called “500 Years of Chicano History,” which will be used by students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

This book contains the three images above: a cartoon labeled “huelga,” which is Spanish for a labor strike; an angry Aztec-looking guy pointing forth with the message, “Who’s the illegal alien PILGRIM”; and a “CHICANO POWER” sign accompanied by a fist.

Other images in “500 Years of Chicano History” for middle-schoolers include two images of women shooting guns, several images of dead people hanging from ropes and an assortment of young children in fields picking vegetables. 

“This book in particular was used in the district’s appeal of the state’s finding that the classes taught resentment. It was very damaging,” Lori Hunnicutt of the Arizona Daily Independent told The Daily Caller.

“There is no educational value in the pictures, and they can only be designed to scare children,” Hunnicutt added. “I cannot fathom what instructional scaffolding one would have to provide to make this material anything but frightening for sixth graders.”

UNIDOS, a coalition of youth activists established to defend the Mexican-American Studies program, praised the return of the controversial books.

“There have been horrendous, shameful abuses on our culture and our community,” UNIDOS member Gabriel M. Schivone told the Star. “This has never really been about books. It’s the entire curriculum that was targeted, criminalized and outlawed.”

State officials are watching the high jinks in Tucson with interest, but currently doing nothing to intervene.

“Given the prior misuse of the approved texts in TUSD classrooms, the Arizona Department of Education is concerned whether the governing board’s actions indicate an attempt to return to practices found to have violated Arizona’s statutes in 2011,” said John Huppenthal, Arizona’s elected public schools superintendent, in a statement. “It is the Department’s intent to monitor how such materials are used as well as all classroom instruction and to take appropriate corrective action if the district is once again violating the law.”

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