BY SARA BAKRAJI
Students of the Tucson School District found identity in the Mexican-American Studies program which is precisely what Tom Horne wants to ban.
In 1997, Mexican-American Studies was brought into the Tucson School District. The high rate of Mexican/Latino students dropping out of high school was the main reason they created the program. The program offered an interest in education by creating a curriculum that would be geared toward their ethnicity. Having a program like this helped students to find identity in their ethnicity; it helped them to find their purpose. MAS also encouraged students to attend class because they would be learning about their own ethnic background, a subject they found a high interest in. However, Tom Horne, Superintendent of all Arizona’s schools, believed the MAS program was in violation of Arizona state law HB2281.
What sparked the controversy in April of 2006 was when a guest speaker, Dolores Huerta, came to a high school and stated that “Republicans hate Latinos.” A statement like that caused uproar with Republican Tom Horne. He began an investigation in the Mexican-American Studies program and believed it to be in violation with HB2281. Arizona state law HB2281 states that school districts cannot promote the overthrow of the U.S. Government or promote resentment toward a race or class of people. Although he never actually attended any of the program’s classes, he deemed that “[the program] caused resentment toward white people.”
Both teachers and students denied that their teachers ever taught to resent white people or overthrow the U.S. Government. In fact, the University of Arizona study found in 2009 showed that MAS improved Mexican/Latino standardized test scores. The study also showed that 51% of students enrolled in MAS were more likely to graduate high school than students not enrolled in the program with a similar ethnic background. This is solid proof that the purpose of the Mexican-American studies program is effective.
In no way was the curriculum designed to promote the resentment of any race, it simply shined a light on a particular culture. Not to mention that this program is not a requirement to take. Every student has the choice to opt out of taking World History and take Mexican-American studies.
January 10, 2012 – After reviewing all the information on the case, the federal court made their final decision to ban Mexican-American studies in a vote 4-1. Although this sounds like complete racism toward the Mexican and Latino people, the federal court later announced that there can be the study of Mexican-Americans. Sounds like the outcome we were all hoping for right? Not quite. The federal court is allowing Mexican-American studies with the addition of African-American studies. The problem the court faces is that they have to comply with both HB2281and the desegregation order that says Tucson has to create “culturally relevant courses of instruction” for both Latinos and African-Americans due to the hardships they faced in the past. With the Fall semester just beginning, the community awaits to see the new curriculum .