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Tom Horne to Ethnic Studies: Drop Dead!

Arizona Watch

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 states 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 nations sacrosanct national narrative is taught in schools.

This narrative is presumably the nations 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 world.

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 Hornes 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. Hornes 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 nations 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 nations 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 studentsthat is, if theyre allowed access to it.'

Horne isnt promoting sound educational policy which encourages critical thinking; he's selling hyper-U.S. nationalism or nationalized mind control.

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. Its about 90 miles through desert heat. But its 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

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