According to the findings by the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, the TUSD Mexican America/Raza Studies classes promote resentment towards a race or class of people, and resegregate the district’s classrooms.
The district was found to use materials that “repeatedly refer to white people as being “oppressors” and “oppressing” the Latino people.” The “reviewed materials present only one perspective of historical events – that of the Latino people being persecuted, oppressed and subjugated by the “hegemony” – otherwise known in this material as white America.”
The classes are based on the book Occupied America by Rodolfo Acuna, and Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. Occupied American has become the bible of sorts for those promoting Latino Nationalism. Its anti-intellectual arguments require the reader to essentially dismiss the Bering Strait Land Bridge Theory of migration, and believe in either a physical or a theoretical place called Aztlan. TUSD’s curriculum requires the student to know which American states make up the physical version of Aztlan, which include Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed is often used in curriculum that discourages assimilation into society and promotes revolution against the “dominate classes.” It is the basis of critical race pedagogy, which is the foundation of TUSD’s disjointed Mexican American/Raza Studies curriculum. Acuna describes the TUSD students as, “aware of their role in creating change. They are part of a culture of resistance.”
The Superintendent’s thorough examination of the classes found that they “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic race.” In other words, in a district that spends over $60 million in desegregation funds, the classes resegregate the classrooms.
The finding states, “In addition to the reviewed classroom materials and instructional content, the Mexican American Studies Department (MAS) website clearly indicates the Program is primarily designed for pupils of a particular ethnic race. The TUSD Mexican American Studies Department’s website “displays a chart of its Mexican American Studies Model which is the foundation for its program and is explicitly designed for Latino students.”
“This finding is supported by the fact that an extraordinary percentage of students enrolled in Program classes are Latino – over 90% – compared to the Latino student population at Tucson Unified School District, which is 60%.” Those Latino students are instructed that they are “part of an oppressed people.”
The least surprising finding is that the classes “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” The review of the class materials found that they, “repeatedly emphasize the importance of building Latino nationalism and unity versus identifying students as individuals.” The program’s director, Sean Arce was a member of MEChA as a college student, and the MAS students are encouraged to join MEChA.
MEChA’s website describes the meaning and purpose of the group, “Movimiento means that the organization is dedicated to the movement to gain self-determination for our people. ….At the heart of the name is the use of the identity: Chicano…. In adopting their new identity, the students committed themselves to return to the barrios, colonias, or campos and together, struggle against the forces that oppress our gente. Lastly, the affirmation that we are Indigenous people to this land by placing our movement in Aztlan, the homeland of all peoples from Anahuak.”
The finding concludes, “….there is substantial evidence of a clear violation of Arizona Revised Statute Section 15-112 by the Tucson Unified School District. The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board has 60 days to bring the Mexican American Studies Program into compliance with A.R.S. §15-112. Failure to do so shall result in the withholding of 10% of the monthly apportionment of state aid to Tucson Unified School District until such time as they come into compliance.”
The TUSD Governing Board will met in an “Emergency Executive Session” to discuss its options, which include accepting the finding or appealing the finding. Lack of support for the program by Tucsonans should inform their decision. However, just as it “became apparent that the Mexican American Studies Department operates in a vacuum with essentially little to no oversight from the school district,” to Superintendent Huppenthal, it has become clear to the public that the Board does not make informed decisions.