Friday, February 26, 2016

UT College of Education Professor Nominated for ‘Si, Se Puede’ Award

My husband, Emilio Zamora and I, are very humbled and deeply honored to be this year's recipients of the Cesar Chavez award given out annually by P.O.D.E.R., People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources. The Cesar E. Chavez “Si Se Puede!” Award is presented to individuals that Demonstrate Leadership that is Changing Lives and Transforming Communities.  We invite you to participate in the Cesar Chavez – “Si Se Puede!” March on Saturday, March 26th, at 10:30 AM. The March begins at Terrazas Library, 1105 E. Cesar Chavez and ends at Mariposa Centro Cultural, 4926 E. Cesar Chavez Street.
Susana Almanza, gracias, for the nomination!

-Angela Valenzuela

UT College of Education Professor Nominated for ‘Si, Se Puede’ Award

Feb. 19, 2016
Angela Valenzuela, professor of Educational Policy and Planning and Cultural Studies in Education programs, has been nominated to receive the Cesar E. Chavez – “Si, Se Puede” Award from the People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources (PODER). The distinction is given to individuals who demonstrate community leadership and whose work honors the legacy of Chavez’ civil rights and labor activism.

PODER, a grassroots organization devoted to addressing environmental issues, seeks to frame those issues as matters of social and economic justice. The organization is specifically focused on increasing participation of communities of color in corporate and government decision-making.

A reception in honor of the award and its recipients will be held Saturday, March 26, at the Emma Barrientos Mexican American Culture Center in Austin.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dr. Sandy Grande is speaking at UT on March. 21, 2016

TCEP and Cultural Studies in Education Distinguished Lecture


TCEP and Cultural Studies in Education Distinguished Lecture

March 10, 2016, 5:30-7:00PM
The George I. Sánchez Building
Cissy McDaniel Parker Dean’s
Conference Room (SZB 238)
University of Texas at Austin

The End of Public Schools?: The Corporatization of Public Education
Over the last several decades the making of educational policy has been hijacked by unelected and unaccountable individuals and organizations that advance a corporate reform model based on a neoliberal philosophy emphasizing markets, privatization, individualism, and competition. Hursh provides evidence for the corporate takeover in the form of increasing influence of philanthropists, nongovernmental organizations, hedge fund managers, and corporations. As exemplars, he focuses on the influence of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Foundation’s satellite nongovernmental organizations, Teach for America, and Pearson Education. He suggests that these organizations have gained control over policy making through the formation of tight networks in which neoliberal organizations cooperate in funding and promoting desired reforms.  Because these organizations work through one another often outside of the traditional political process, their efforts are often hidden from the public. In response, Hursh calls for a concerted effort to uncover and document the influence of neoliberal organizations, and the harmful effect their policies have on education, including the teaching profession and student learning. He ends  on an optimistic note by citing evidence of the growing resistance in New York among parents, students, teachers, and community members.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona Shifts Focus From Immigration Debate

This is how things are going in Arizona right now with its immigration-related politics:

“It’s tough to propose new illegal immigration bills in Arizona,” one state senator told the New York Times this week, “because we’ve pretty much done them all.” Unexhausted by the effort, the Arizona legislature is putting forward a new bill aimed at immigrants in the country illegally, with provisions to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” and change the way some immigrants are sentenced for crimes. Specifically, the fill calls for unauthorized immigrants to receive the maximum sentence for any crime they are convicted of, stripping judges of discretion in those cases."

And the people suffer.  And the people have a long history of suffering.


Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona Shifts Focus From Immigration Debate

Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona greeting Claudia Pavlovich, the governor of Sonora, Mexico, in December in Phoenix. Credit Caitlin O'Hara for The New York Times
PHOENIX — When Doug Ducey ran for governor of this border state, he accused President Obama of “dithering far too long” on immigration and vowed to “fight back” against illegal border crossers, pledging to use every resource at his command: “fencing, satellites, guardsmen, more police and prosecutors.”
Now in his second year as the governor of Arizona — a state at the forefront of immigration and border issues, with a growing Latino population — Mr. Ducey, a Republican, has done none of that. He has avoided pressures from his party’s presidential candidates even after one of them, Donald J. Trump, twice visited the state to promote the “big” and “beautiful” wall he said he would build to keep illegal immigrants away if he was elected.
“I want this state to be known for what it is, the land of opportunity,” Mr. Ducey said in an interview. “So our main focus is our economy and our education system.”
But he may soon have to wade into the divisive immigration debate, which is again coloring Arizona’s legislative session and bringing angry crowds of protesters to the Capitol’s lawn and hearing rooms.

State Senator Martín J. Quezada spoke at a rally protesting immigration legislation last month outside the Capitol in Phoenix. Credit Caitlin O'Hara for The New York Times
One bill would punish communities that offer sanctuary to unauthorized immigrants facing deportation; those communities’ share of state revenues would be withheld. Another measure would require judges to sentence undocumented immigrants to the fullest possible term in prison for whatever crime they committed. A Senate committee approved both on Feb. 3 in party-line votes.
A third bill, which would impose citizenship and legal residency requirements for municipal identification cards, cleared three Senate committees in three weeks with blanket support from Republican lawmakers, underscoring their priorities here in an election year.

“It’s tough to propose new illegal immigration bills in Arizona, because we’ve pretty much done them all,” said State Senator John Kavanagh, a retired Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officer who found a second calling as a leading conservative in Arizona.
Already, the state has one of the nation’s toughest stances on illegal immigration. It has battled in state and federal courts to deny driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who were granted deferred deportation by Mr. Obama. It is home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, who made a name for himself as an unapologetic pursuer of unauthorized migrants. And it ushered in a harsh new wave of immigration enforcement when it gave the police broad powers to question anyone suspected of being in the country illegally — passing the “show me your papers” law in 2010.

Mr. Kavanagh was among the crucial supporters of the measure, which Mr. Ducey’s predecessor, Jan Brewer, approved. The legislation divided a state already scarred by years of targeted enforcement against Latinos, who make up one-third of the population.

The municipal identification bill, which Mr. Kavanagh also sponsored, “is primarily to protect the integrity of government ID cards,” he said, “but it does have an impact on illegal immigration, because it prevents illegal immigrants from getting one of those cards.”

Mr. Ducey has not said a word about this or the other immigration bills. But people on both sides of the immigration debate are eagerly awaiting any action he might take on the measures. They could serve as a litmus test for his positions on the subject, which, as governor, he has deftly avoided articulating.

If the bills hit Mr. Ducey’s desk, “will he sign them?” asked State Senator Martín J. Quezada, a Democratic leader in the Republican-controlled Legislature, whose district includes the Maryvale section of Phoenix, where three in four residents are Latino. “Remember, just because he can, it doesn’t mean that he should.”

Mr. Ducey is “focused on the priorities he laid out in his State of the State address” on Jan. 11, said his spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato. They include overhauling Arizona’s beleaguered foster care system and opening a corrections center to offer intensive drug treatment and other services to certain inmates in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous.

He also proposed spending $31.5 million to send 200 state troopers after drug smugglers along the border, the only border-related program he has championed so far. The scope of the effort is a far cry from the $800 million that Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, also a Republican, secured from his state’s Legislature last year to extend indefinitely the deployment of National Guard troops and air and ground surveillance along the Rio Grande Valley, which has faced questions over its cost and results.
United States Border Patrol agents at a border fence in Nogales, Ariz., in 2014. Credit John Moore/Getty Images
“Our goal, because of limited resources, was going after what was most hurtful, and that was why we went after the drug cartels,” Mr. Ducey said in the interview, drawing a distinction between his and Mr. Abbott’s approaches.
And while Mr. Abbott explained his plan as necessary to counter the federal government’s “apathetic response to border security,” Mr. Ducey characterized his plan for state troopers to target drug smugglers as “adding state muscle” to the 4,000 federal Border Patrol agents in Arizona.
“Where there’s an opportunity to work together to get results for the citizens of the state of Arizona, to increase public safety,” he said, “I think that’s my responsibility as governor to take advantage.”
Mr. Ducey had the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske, an Obama appointee, by his side when he announced the border program from the State Capitol in November. That was a clear departure from Ms. Brewer, who is still well remembered for wagging a finger at Mr. Obama on an airport tarmac.

In an interview, Ms. Brewer said her successor should use his bully pulpit to “tell the federal government to secure our border, then we can deal with all the other problems that are upon us as a country.”

He has been handing out olive branches instead.

When Mr. Ducey met Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson early last year, he said by way of introduction, “This is a new administration, and I’d like a fresh start.” In June, Mr. Ducey led a trade mission to Mexico City, the first Arizona governor to do so in a decade, then traveled to Sonora, Mexico, three months later to attend the inauguration of his counterpart across the border.
Immigration advocates have been cautiously watching from the sidelines, unsure what to make of him just yet.

“At least he isn’t using the hate speech we heard so often from Governor Brewer,” said Viridiana González, who leads a coalition of community groups opposing Mr. Kavanagh’s bill, after a protest of the legislation last month.

State Representative Bruce Wheeler, a Democrat from Tucson who is assistant minority whip, said in an interview, “I don’t know if what we’re witnessing is a change in substance or a change of style, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Mr. Ducey made no mention of illegal immigrants as he outlined his border proposal, which he carefully framed around the heavy toll heroin addiction has exacted in Arizona.

“This is not Arizona’s problem,” Mr. Ducey said. “This is America’s problem.”

"Criminal Aliens" Flashpoint of Border Security Debate

This piece deserves a close read in distinguishing fact from fiction.  Glad to see the Texas Tribune take this on.

"Criminal Aliens" Flashpoint of Border Security Debate

Bordering on Insecurity LogoThe Texas Tribune is taking a yearlong look at the issues of border security and immigration, reporting on the reality and rhetoric around these topics. Sign up to get story alerts.
Juan Francisco de Luna Vasquez passed through the Webb County jail at least four times on more than a half dozen charges before allegedly beating his wife to death with a hammer last year in Laredo.
Victor Reyes had already spent three months in the Hidalgo County Jail, four months in state custody and six years in federal prison for multiple felony offenses by the time he went on a random shooting spree in Houston, killing two people and injuring three more in January 2015.

And before Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez allegedly shot Kate Steinle to death on Pier 14 in San Francisco last summer, authorities say he had racked up a criminal record including seven felonies, mostly drug related, and a 1997 arrest for assault.

There are peculiarities to each case, but they have something in common: all three men were thrown out of the country multiple times by federal immigration authorities but returned illegally — through the Texas-Mexico border — before committing new crimes in the United States, records obtained by The Texas Tribune show.

Their crimes put them at the center of a red-hot political debate about illegal immigration, the revolving door at the southern border and controversial immigrant catch-and-release policies that pit deportation-fixated conservatives against liberal immigrant advocates.

A Texas Tribune analysis found that undocumented immigrants make up a smaller share of those imprisoned in Texas — including on Death Row — than of the general population. However, a veil of government secrecy and inconsistent record-keeping make it difficult to accurately determine how many criminal immigrants are in the country or how many crimes they have committed. Fear, outrage and political jockeying have largely filled the information void.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Stanford Study: ‘Culturally Relevant’ Teaching Boosts GPA, Attendance for At-Risk Youth, So Why Not Make It Universal?

Great question!  Knowledge is power.  The research article can be downloaded here.

Stanford Study: ‘Culturally Relevant’ Teaching Boosts GPA, Attendance for At-Risk Youth, So Why Not Make It Universal?

East Carolina University
East Carolina University
If you don’t know about your past, you lack a blueprint for the future.  And a new study suggests just that.  Research in California found that high school students who were exposed to classes on race and ethnicity experienced better attendance and academic achievement.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at Stanford University, revealed that an ethnic studies pilot program at three San Francisco high schools reaped benefits for at-risk ninth graders, as the Guardian reported.  Interestingly, those teens who enrolled in the class had substantially better outcomes than those who did not.  For example, attendance improved by 21 percent, grade-point averages jumped 1.4 points, and credits earned increased by 23 for those who participated in the course.
“These surprisingly large effects are consistent with the hypothesis that the course reduced dropout rates and suggest that culturally relevant teaching, when implemented in a supportive, high-fidelity context, can provide effective support to at-risk students,” according to the authors.
Approximately 1,400 students took part in the pilot program. Enrollment in the class was voluntary for students with a GPA above 2.0 but mandatory for those with a GPA below 2.0.  The ethnic studies course covers the experiences and identities of minority groups, and employs cultural references with the goal to increase social and political awareness among the students.  In one example of a lesson in the class, students are instructed to examine the role of advertising in encouraging cultural stereotypes, and the notion that some people and values are “normal” or otherwise.
“Culturally relevant pedagogy embeds several features of interventions designed to reduce stereotype threat, such as explaining stereotypes and identifying external forces that contribute to academic challenges,” said Thomas S. Dee, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and director at the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis.  Dee, who authored the report along with Emily Penner at Stanford, told the Guardian he was surprised such a course could have such dramatic effects on the academic outcomes of at-risk students.
“Ethnic studies may be effective because it is an unusually intensive and at-scale social-psychological intervention,” Dee added.
Further, although there were positive outcomes across gender and race/ethnicity (Asian and Latino), most of the improvements were found among boys and Latinos.  The sample size of Black and white students was too small to gauge the results.  In addition, there were significant GPA improvements in math and science, and to a lesser extent in English and language arts.
This research lends credence to the idea that ethnic studies should assume a much larger role in the education process and become an integrated part of school curricula. Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a statewide ethnic studies curriculum plan last year.  Cities such as Oakland, Los Angeles and Portland have witnessed moves towards ethnic studies offerings, while states such as Arizona enacted laws to ban ethnic studies instruction.
Texas — whose state board of education is dominated by right-wing white conservatives — has rewritten history by revising the textbooks. These books, in a state school system dominated by Brown and Black children, have erased the achievements of African-Americans, Latinos and others, removing references to slavery, the civil rights movement and other historical events of a racially charged nature.
And it is no accident that the ethnic studies movement grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s on college campuses across the nation.  This was about changing the narrative and struggling for one’s rights, a fight for empowerment that took place in voting booths, buses and at lunch counters but which also takes place in  books and in the classroom.
They say that history is told from the perspective of the conquerors.  And in this country, the history of white people has been rendered standardized and normalized — and the only interpretation of history.  How can those children who fail to see their own culture or people reflected in the history books develop high self-esteem?  Moreover, how can those whose history is reflected exclusively in the classroom setting learn to appreciate and respect those who are excluded and marginalized?
This is why the Stanford study is significant.  However, we should not merely stop with at-risk students — all students need this type of learning.  And we need to divest ourselves of a colonial system of education that excludes and degrades people of a darker hue.  Knowledge is power, and we must ensure that all of our children have access to that power.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

We Need to Change How We Teach Black History

Great piece by my colleague, Dr. Bentley-Edwards in Educational Psychology, at UT.  It appears in the latest issue of Time Magazine.  I like the view expressed herein that to NOT address African American's prior history is to be indifferent to them.  

The inclusive, more comprehensive treatment of history that she calls for carries over well into all area studies curriculum.  

If you see my last post on the prison-curriculum project out of California, we may similarly infer just how dehumanizing our assimilationist educational systems are, on the one hand, and the potential of curriculum, on the other, to illuminate extant hierarchies of power as much as by what is taught, as by what is systematically not taught.  

After all, you cannot defeat a people with a history and therein derives the motivation, the civilizational racism, the unexamined assumptions that are the motors of racist ideologies that keep our current system "working"—not to liberate, but to domesticate—and to do so through the subjugation of specific kinds of knowledge itself. 


We Need to Change How We Teach Black History

Getty Images
Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards is an assistant professor of educational psychology in the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin

When the teaching of African Americans’ history begins with slavery, it ignores their humanity now

Columnist and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King recently wrote that Black History Month should not begin and end with lessons of American slavery. This is exactly right but for reasons somewhat different from the ones that he puts forth.
School children, as well as adults, should understand the breadth of black heritage. When we study any other group, we recognize the fullness of their humanity. Just as we should never forget the pain of the Holocaust when we talk about Jewish history, we do not often begin discussions with that horrific event. When you recognize a group’s humanity, you understand that these historical moments were preceded by their own socio-historical contexts.
Well before the rise of European imperialism, the peoples of Africa had their own empires and political systems. In West Africa, the fall of the Songhai Empire and ensuing civil wars left its people vulnerable for colonial exploitation and enslavement. Points in history are also related to events that occur years later and influence current perceptions and policies. Stereotypes of African American men as strong but not smart and women as hypersexual can be traced to common perceptions of enslaved Africans.
I am not suggesting that people should know the vast history of Africans just for knowledge’s sake or for a sense of cultural pride, although each is important. People should learn this history because everyone should know that my black ancestors were humans, not slaves. These Africans were kidnapped and later enslaved.
Enslaved Africans brought culture and norms with them that impacted their language, diet and spirituality. When enslaved Africans are described as slaves instead of as humans, the harms they suffered are diminished. Take, for example, Scholastic’s unfortunate decision to publish a children’s book called “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” just in time for Black History Month. It shows the pervasive misunderstanding of the African American experience.
This modern-day slave book, which was recently rescinded by the publisher, portrays the life of Hercules, George Washington’s enslaved master chef. I don’t know whether it is ironic or blatant indifference to write a book about Hercules having so much pride in baking a grand birthday cake for George Washington while omitting that he escaped bondage on a subsequent birthday. It should be understood that people can have pride in their work, or even a privileged position within the hierarchy of slavery, yet still know they are oppressed and still seek their freedom. If Hercules’ humanity were accepted, then the authors and publishers would understand that a skewed depiction of happy slaves is neither refreshing nor new.

I vividly remember that my elementary history book included depictions of grinning enslaved Africans playing the fiddle, couples dancing and babies toddling about in its two-page section on slavery. I remember being uncomfortable then, and it disturbs me that these or similar images continue to be the introduction to black history for so many people.
Which leads to this point: The ways in which we teach black history need improvement.
Incessantly reciting lists of black inventions and firsts without discussing the contexts of the accomplishments provides only a shell of what Carter G. Woodson intended when he initiated our annual celebration of black people. For example, Benjamin Banneker, who was a freeman and prolific scientist, is most often recognized for being a key surveyor of Washington, D.C. What is not typically discussed is that he gained much of his scientific knowledge from his formerly enslaved father, who was from a learned Wolof family. The Wolof people (in present day Senegal) are an ethnic group that was once part of the Songhai Empire — known for its cultural and intellectual hubs. This context provides insight about how Banneker, with little formal education, would become a scientist and surveyor, among other accomplishments.
When the telling or teaching of African Americans’ history begins with slavery, it ignores their humanity now, just as their humanity was denied in the past. When the profound contributions of African Americans before, during and after their enslavement are recognized, then their humanity — and therefore my humanity — is undeniable, and black lives would, in fact, matter.

Curriculum Goes Behind Bars By Whitney Frasier

This is so incredibly moving.  I was contemplating today on how many of our youth are infantilized by a curriculum that is "dumbed-down" ostensibly for them at the same time that many of them are old enough to get tried as adults and get sent behind bars. Glad to read about this wonderful initiative that breathes life, identity, and soul into these sterile, forbidding spaces.


San Marcos,

February 01, 2016

Curriculum Goes Behind Bars

By Whitney Frasier

When a group of California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) students started sending curriculum to a seven-student cohort in prisons throughout Southern California, they never thought their program would grow to more than 200 active students behind bars across the United States.
Homie UP, short for Homie Universidad Popular, is a program that offers American history from a Chicano/Latino perspective free of charge to incarcerated individuals. The initiative started after community members participating in a similar curriculum known as Universidad Popular, or People’s University, expressed interest in presenting the information they were learning to their incarcerated loved ones.
“The program was initially intended for those serving a life sentence, but then we received so many requests, we felt compelled to make it accessible to all incarcerated individuals regardless of sentence length,” said Flor Alvarez, a Homie UP coordinator and National Latino Research Center (NLRC) Research Assistant.
As the popularity of the program increases, the program coordinators are beginning to feel some growing pains as their staff and funding remains the same.
“We have spent countless hours creating the Homie UP curriculum and reviewing assignments— sometimes we work overnight or even on the weekends,” said Alvarez. “It’s all on a volunteer basis, so many times we pay out of pocket to send assignments. When we are fortunate, some family members will contribute stamps, paper and envelopes.”
When the program was at its infancy, all the students were of Latino decent. Now, Homie UP’s student base is very diverse and includes both male and female inmates of all ethnicities convicted of a variety of offenses. The team’s future plan is to offer an increased variety of classes, and not just from a Latino perspective.
“This project has really catapulted us into this national discussion that’s going on around incarceration,” said NLRC Research Director Arcela Nuñez-Alvárez. “Our project is very much aligned to issues that happening nationally and at the state level and locally.”
A $10,000 grant from California Humanities has allowed the team to tell the story further through a documentary titled, Homie UP: Stories of Love and Redemption. The grant supports documentary films, radio and new media productions that enhance the community’s understanding of California and its cultures, peoples and histories.
The team had a one-year turnaround time to create the film and worked with filmmaker Jennifer Myhre, as well as an advisory group consisting of CSUSM professors David Avalos, Bonnie Bade, Marisol Clark-Ibáñez and Charles “Chuck” Allen.
The hour-long documentary recently received accolades and was presented with a Silver Award by the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards in December 2015.
So far the award-winning film has hosted 10 screenings throughout California from San Diego to San Francisco. The documentary features real students who have been released from prison, and family members. Screenings are usually accompanied with an art exhibit displaying the work of Homie UP students, as well as a panel discussion about how the prison system affects the entire community.
According to Nuñez-Alvárez, there is still a lot of discussion to be had concerning families, inmates and the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, a systematic process by which students, primarily African Americans and Latinos, are pushed out of the mainstream educational system and channeled into the criminal system.
“This happens through harsh and discriminatory school discipline policies,” said Nuñez-Alvárez. “Research shows that students of color receive harsher punishments. Incidents at school tend to be the first encounter with law enforcement and thus begin the pathway to jail or prison.”
The documentary is now being used as an educational tool for the community. An expansion of the documentary, which looks at why certain populations are over represented in prisons and in jail, is already in the planning stages.
“There is finally a shift of dialogue,” said Lilian Serrano, CSUSM alumnus and NLRC research coordinator. “Everyone can talk about the numbers, but the film gives faces to mass incarceration. For every person that is in prison, there is a mother, a father, a sibling or even children. I think that is a contribution to the discussion that no one else is making and that’s what makes this project unique.”
To learn more about Homie UP or to view an upcoming screening of Homie UP: Stories of Love and Redemption contact NLRC at 760-750-3500.

Growing Critically Conscious Teachers by Valenzuela, A. (Ed.) (2016). NY: Teachers College Press.

Dear Blog Readers:

I am happy to announce this volume, Growing Critically Conscious Teachers: A Social Justice Curriculum for Educators of Latino/a Youth. The expected publication date is April, 2016.  

All of the royalties will go to the National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project (NLERAP) in order to help the organization's efforts with respect to its Grow Your Own Teacher Education Institutes (GYO-TEI) initiative that is fully described in this volume.
You can also learn about the initiative here.

You can place your order here.