Tom Horne to Ethnic Studies: Drop Dead!
New America Media, Commentary
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Posted: Jun 19, 2009
TUCSON -- Arizona is the New South and the new South Africa. It is the
home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, where racial profiling is official policy.
Now, in another form of profiling, State Superintendent of Schools Tom
Horne wants to eliminate ethnic studies.
At his behest and by a 4-3 Senate panel vote, an amendment to
education bill S.B. 1069 was passed that emphasizes the teaching of
individualism at the expense of ethnic studies. The bill would permit
the department of education to withhold 10 percent of state monies if
ethnic studies continue to exist. The full legislature is expected to
pass it within several weeks, and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer is
expected to sign it into law.
Horne has spent two-and-a-half years pushing this bill, and it will
effectively send Arizona school children into the dark ages.
Overriding the concept of local control, Horne wants Arizona teachers
to impose one view of America upon the state’s children.
His objective, according a press release from his office, is “to
prohibit ethnic studies in Arizona public schools.” But his real
objective appears to be ensuring that only the nation’s sacrosanct
national narrative is taught in schools.
This narrative is presumably the nation’s greatest asset. It is a
compilation of foundational myths and legends that defines the United
States as the New Promised Land -– a nation chosen by God to
essentially create heaven on earth. Its secular version is to
militarily spread freedom, democracy and capitalism to the rest of the
Horne joins the likes of Newt Gingrich, Tom Tancredo, Rush Limbaugh,
Lou Dobbs and all their talk-show brethren, in both promoting
scapegoat politics and in corrupting the English language.
In Horne’s America, genocide, slavery, land theft, segregation,
discrimination, extralegal brutality and racial supremacy are taught
as footnotes at best, or disappeared altogether. In his America,
exclusion is inclusion and ignorance is bliss. In attempting to impose
his philosophy, he fancies himself as carrying on the work of Martin
Luther King, Jr. He oxymoronically accuses ethnic studies educators of
promoting racism and separatism.
The legislation targets ethnic studies, but exempts “classes or
courses for Native American pupils that are required to comply with
federal law.” Also exempted are classes for English learners. Horne’s
actual target is Raza Studies at Tucson Unified School district. In
his crusade, he accuses Raza Studies of promoting “ethnic chauvinism”
and of being a “dysfunctional program.”
Nicollete Gomez, who was in both Native American and Raza Studies at
Tucson High School, says, “The outsiders who say that we are
'unAmerican' and 'dysfunctional' obviously do not sit in these classes
to experience intellectual students ready for college material.”
Horne is seemingly unaware that students from Raza Studies, who are
taught about their indigenous cultures, consistently outperform
students from all backgrounds at TUSD. They also have a very high
college-going rate. Research by Dr. Augustine Romero, former director
of Raza Studies, confirms this phenomenal success.
Facts are of no concern to Horne. Only the nation’s foundational
myths/legends are important. This includes, as he told the
ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation in 2007, the Greco-Roman roots
of western civilization.
Lecia J. Brooks, director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center and
Teaching Tolerance at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the nation’s
premier center for tracking hate crime, says, “The teaching of
so-called 'individualism' is but another example of Western European
cultural dominance. This is madness. Educators everywhere should
declare in one voice: 'Culturally relevant pedagogy actually improves
instruction for all students—that is, if they’re allowed access to
Horne isn’t promoting sound educational policy which encourages
critical thinking; he's selling hyper-U.S. nationalism or nationalized
As University of Arizona first-year student Pricila Rodriguez, a Raza
Studies alum from Tucson High, also reminds us, “People that insist
that taxpayer money should not be used for ethnic studies forget that
we are taxpayers, too.”
In protest, supporters in Tucson of ethnic studies will stage a
two-day march to Phoenix on June 28 and 29. It’s about 90 miles
through desert heat. But it’s one way to put the heat on Tom Horne.
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, assistant professor at the University of
Arizona, can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com. It can be read at New
America's website: http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/
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