On Tuesday, May 11, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law HB 2281, which “prohibits a school district or charter school from including courses or classes that either promote the overthrow of the
The classes now banned are the ‘La Raza studies’ courses—also called Chicano studies or Mexican American studies—that have become popular in
La Raza, we noted, means “The Race.” Members of MEChA (which stands for “Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan” and means “Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan”) identify themselves as “La Raza.” MEChA is a Chicano organization dedicated to regaining control of “Aztlan”—the Southwest region of the
We observed that two of the main books for the TUSD program were Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, by Rodolpho Acuña. Freire’s book, of course, argues that teachers must train students to acquire “critical consciousness” (an understanding that they are oppressed); to give voice to their grievances; and to liberate themselves from the bonds of imposed assimilation. A reviewer of the book for The Nation, wrote, “Wherever education is explicitly involved in struggles for equity and justice, Freire’s ideas and his books, especially Pedagogy of the Oppressed, will live on.”
This revolutionary fervor is even more pronounced in Occupied America, which tells the story of the
Gutiérrez attacked the gringo establishment angrily at a press conference and called upon Chicanos to ‘kill the gringo,’ which meant to end white control over Mexicans.
Actually, “kill the gringo” means “kill the gringo.” Jose Angel Gutiérrez, who is referenced here, is the co-founder of the Raza Unida Party, a
The Raza studies program housed its revolutionary aims in terms of “transformation” and social justice.” Among its goals were to “Advocate for and provide curriculum that is centered within the pursuit of social justice,” “Work towards the invoking of a critical consciousness within each and every student,” and “Promote and advocate for social and educational transformation.”
While such aims and books do not explicitly call for the overthrow of the
The passage of this bill represents a victory for
But Horne didn’t butt out and has continued to work to uncover what’s really being taught in ethnic studies programs at
Most of these students’ parents and grandparents came to this country, legally, because this is the land of opportunity. They trust the public schools with their children. Those students should be taught that this is the land of opportunity, and that if they work hard they can achieve their goals. They should not be taught that they are oppressed.
One aim of Raza studies programs is to give Hispanic students a sense of community and an appreciation of their heritage; these are legitimate desires. But a consequence of this pedagogy is that students are trained to think of themselves primarily as Chicanos at odds with white
This bill is a move in the right direction. It is important, however, to distinguish between K-12 and higher education when it comes to such ethnic studies programs. La Raza studies is an academic program or course at San Francisco State University, Sacramento State University, Contra Costa College, and the College of San Mateo. These programs, while not our pick as ideal disciplines of higher learning, are at least voluntary and fall under the more expansive protections of academic freedom that apply at the collegiate level. They are certainly not, so far as we know, imposed on unwilling students the way a K-12 curriculum often is. Taking courses from Jose Angel Gutiérrez at the
This bill will help refocus