The Arizona Republic
Jun. 11, 2008 12:00 AM
The controversial ethnics-studies program in the Tucson Unified School District has been getting some much-needed scrutiny lately.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has broached a wall of silence, supported at one time by much of the Tucson media, about the program's content.
Conservative talk-radio and columnists have fulminated about it. The state Legislature has considered a bill that would forbid it. And, although opposing the legislation as a usurpation of local control, The Republic's Editorial Board has warned about the program's divisive, anger-inspiring objectives ("Politics in classroom," April 20).
In response, the inner-city Tucson school district at last is reacting to that much-needed spotlight by announcing plans to hugely expand the program, making it a required course of studies for freshmen. And, eventually, expanding it into elementary schools.
Clearly, there is defiance in the district's folly.
As we have said before, choices about instructional content - even politically extremist content, which TUSD's ethnic-studies program indisputably includes - is a matter for the TUSD board.
But, as we also have said before - and we say so now, more emphatically than ever - the light shining on this particular program, which is imbued with contentious, divisive, anti-American socialism, must grow brighter still.
If the board of TUSD is to expand this noxious, revolution-fomenting propaganda into a districtwide required course reaching thousands instead of hundreds of its students, then all of Tucson need know of it. In detail.
Numerous current and former educators and district employees have come forward to shed light on the program. Most of them, fearful of retribution from the program's politically powerful cadre of instructors, have done so anonymously.
Not so John Ward.
A former history teacher of good standing at the Tucson High Magnet School, Ward has publicly blasted the program, particularly the Hispanic-oriented "raza studies" portion, which successfully infiltrated his own conventional U.S. history classes.
Ward wrote recently in the Tucson Citizen about how raza-studies instructors, nominally assigned to assist him in his history course during the 2002-03 school year, effectively took over. He became merely the "teacher of record," covering for raza-studies teachers who, he said, lacked proper teaching credentials.
"The basic theme of the curriculum," Ward wrote, "was that Mexican-Americans were and continue to be victims of a racist American society driven by the interests of middle and upper-class Whites."
Police officers, he wrote, are portrayed in raza studies as "an extension of the White power structure."
And the students are taught that Hispanics are kept out of advanced-placement courses at the very school in which the courses are being taught. They are being taught that their own White teachers don't want Hispanic students to get ahead.
For speaking out against the program, Ward was called a racist, despite his Hispanic heritage. And a vendido. A sell-out. Other teachers have anonymously told of similar experiences. Those who dared object to the program's depictions of the "insatiable greed of the Yankee" have been accused of "racism" and, so, silenced.
The program's director, Augustine Romero, makes no secret of any of his designs. He is proudly "progressive" in his politics, as are all his instructors.
"We have to be able to be honest," Romero told a Tucson Citizen reporter recently. "If we have cancer, should we not name the cancer and overcome it? If oppression and subordination are our cancers, should we not name them?"
The communist revolutionary "Che" Guevara is revered in TUSD's raza-studies classrooms, one of which includes a portrait of the young Marxist with a full, Castro-like beard, holding a cigar. Happy, proud, defiant and, like his political descendants in the classrooms of Tucson, confidently in charge.
In fact, Romero and his fellow propagandists have every reason to be confident and defiant. A powerful force on the TUSD board, Adelita Grijalva, has declared her commitment to growing the program within a year.
The governing premise of TUSD's ethnic-studies programs has an honest pedigree. Multiculturalism, the belief that a diversity of cultures enhances all, is a fundamental fact of life in virtually all American public schools.
But it is a twisted version of that honest, optimistic vision of society that has taken hold at TUSD.
A version that urges students to view their own society as one of oppression and victimization.
Is this the vision of America that parents and taxpayers of Tucson wish to impart to their students?
We refuse to believe they do.