Racial Lens Used to Cull Curriculum in Arizona
Read the whole article here.
Ana Verdugo is a fan of Matt de la Peña’s young adult novels; she read his “Mexican WhiteBoy” in two days.
Like the lead character, Danny, Ana is a Mexican-American whose family does not have much, is being raised by her mother and has a father who spent time in jail.
Like Sofia, the lead female character, Ana, a high school junior, is hoping to go to community college, where she wants to study accounting. “Most books I read, I don’t know the people,” Ana said. “This book is the truth.”
Last fall, she had the idea of inviting Mr. de la Peña to Tucson High. “I didn’t think he’d say yes,” she recalled, “but maybe he would.”
For the next several months, Ana and the school librarian, Amy Rusk, worked to raise $1,000 for his speaking fee. It was not easy — their most successful bake sale netted only $124.
Still, on Tuesday morning at 8:30, Mr. de la Peña walked into the Tucson High library, although there was a surprising plot twist.
On Jan. 1, after a new state law targeting Mexican-American studies courses that are perceived as antiwhite was upheld, it became illegal to teach “Mexican WhiteBoy” in Tucson’s classrooms. State officials cited the book as containing “critical race theory,” a violation under a provision that prohibits lessons “promoting racial resentment.”
I didn’t realize until I read this article that Critical Race Theory was specifically named as a violation of ARS 15-111/15-112, the law under which Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program was banned. I found verification of this in the Administrative Law Judge’s Decision of December 27, 2011. [This is a .pdf file.] On page 15 I found this:
81. As represented on the MAS website as well as in the article, the ‘barrio pedagogy’ used in the MAS program utilizes ‘critical Latino race’ theory and ‘critical pedagogy’ as the foundation of MAS classes. Ex. 3; Ex. 5 at ADE 000945-000946; MAS Director Arce, Day 2 (p.m.) at 31:20-32:16; District Superintendent Pedicone, Day 2 (a.m.) at 87:9-13.
82. According to MAS Director Arce, ‘critical race theory utilizes a racimized6 lens to look at different issues, different problems within our society.’ MAS Director Arce, Day 2 (p.m.) at 61:4-7.
83. MAS Director Arce and Dr. Romero state in the article that the rationale behind this ‘racismized’ pedagogy is premised upon the belief that ‘the United States of America was founded and constructed on racism’ and that ”[f]rom its inception, America and Americans have operated on the belief that whites were superior to all other races.’ (Ex. 5 at ADE 000926). They urge that the role of the ‘critical educator’ at the District is not merely to teach students, but to use the classroom to encourage activism.
and footnote 6 says this:
6 This term was shown to have been created by Dr. Romero/MAS Director Arce, as evidenced in Exhibit 5, and the spelling of this term in the transcript of this proceeding is different than how it is spelled in Exhibit 5.
I did not read the entire document, and I don’t know where to find Exhibit 5.
I wonder whether any of this prompted Andrew Breitbart’s attack on Derrick A. Bell and his teaching of Critical Race Theory. Breitbart visited Tucson in April, 2011, and had some fans there. In any case, Breitbart’s attack on teaching about race in America was not the first, and the Arizona Republicans’ attack on Tucson’s Mexican American Studies was not isolated.