What Happened? Biased Course Rejection, Mann Investigation, La Raza Studies

Ashley Thorne

We revisited some of our articles to find out what happened after we wrote them. Here’s what we learned.

  • As a student at Monterey Peninsula College, Aaron Graham had taken a course on “Literature By and About Men.” When he transferred last year to the University of Wyoming as an English major, he requested to receive credit for the course to fulfill a requirement in “emerging fields and approaches.” These courses approached literature through the lens of race and gender. A course on literature by and about men course surely fit that description, but the University of Wyoming denied Graham’s request to transfer the credits, saying that “List II courses should be on literature by and about women, not men” (see refused petition).

    I wrote about this puzzling denial last February and discussed it on the radio program University Talk. Graham appealed the rejection of his request and repeatedly tried to meet with Leslie Rush, the faculty committee representative who signed the refused petition. Time after time, Rush stonewalled Graham, until he was exasperated and tired of wasting time trying to talk to someone who was stubbornly avoiding him. Graham said the whole college of education was against him, “to the point where they went out of their way to make my life hell—eventually prompting/forcing me to leave the program and move to a new department, college, and major.”

    Now a triple major in English Literature, Philosophy, and the University Honors Program, Graham said: 

I spoke with my new advisor about the matter (Dr. Robert Torry); he signed off recommending that the course transfer, it went up through the English Department and college of Arts and Sciences chain of command, (rather than the Secondary English Ed department and College of Education chain of command as it had before) and this time it was approved with no one opposed at any level.

This month Graham wrote to David Clemens, his professor at Monterey Peninsula College, with the good news that the credit had finally transferred:

Dr. Clemens, after the fight, thanks to your help and NAS—especially Ashley Thorne—I was able to get the correct credit due me for your Literature By and About Men class! You had helped me last spring, and I wanted to again thank you again. I will finish my BA this July and be on to Grad school in the fall. (Literature and Philosophy MA)

  • Last May Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli opened an investigation into the work of former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann, to learn whether the latter had used government research grants for scientific fraud. Mann’s name had come to be associated with the “Climategate” emails made public in November 2009. One email written by Phil Jones said, “I’ve just completed Mike’s [Michael Mann’s] Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

    When Cuccinnelli began his inquiry, NAS president Peter Wood wrote that he was “cautiously in favor of Cuccinelli’s review of Mann’s work.” The AAUP, however, advised UVA to refuse to comply with the information requests, and the lower courts did in fact deny the attorney-general’s requests. 

    In the American Spectator this month Paul Chesser acknowledges that his organization, the American Tradition Institute, has taken the baton from Cuccinnelli and made new requests for similar records under Virginia’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act. Chesser reports that a “dozen liberal and academic groups rose in defense of Penn State Climategate scientist Michael Mann, making up reasons such as ‘academic freedom’” to deny the request. These groups included the state’s ACLU chapter, the AAUP, and People for the American Way.  
  • NAS has been following developments surrounding “La Raza studies” (la raza means “the race”) courses in Tucson, Arizona elementary schools. We published our first exposé of the curriculum, heavily influenced by Marxism and Freirean pedagogy, in September 2008. The ethnocentric Raza studies program was geared toward Mexican American students and taught them that the Southwest United States belonged to Mexico, not America, and that they should rise up and overthrow white Americans.

    In May 2010 Arizona passed a law banning the Raza courses. But their supporters are fighting back. In November, a group of teachers filed a lawsuit to reinstate the program. And according to numerous sources, the school district has yet to comply with the ban. The Arizona Daily Star reports, “At the start of the year, the program was identified as being out of compliance with state law as a result and the district now stands to lose millions of dollars in state funding.” 

    Last Tuesday protesters prevented a meeting from taking place that would have considered making the ethnic studies courses electives. But elective status was not enough for Raza studies supporters. A large group of protestors in favor of the program held a noisy demonstration to hijack Tuesday’s meeting. Here’s the story from KGUN9 (follow the link to see a video of the protesters):  

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Students supporting TUSD's ethnic studies program stormed a board room just minutes before the school board was to take up a controversial proposal.  The proposal, by board member Dr. Mark Stegeman, would allow the district to offer the embattled program as elective courses. Currently Mexican American studies can be taken in place of U.S. history as a required core class. Read more here.

The meeting has been rescheduled for May 3.

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