TUSD multicultural program revealed to staff, not Governing Board

While the TUSD Governing Board members were told at last week’s meeting that District’s new multicultural curriculum will be revealed to them at the upcoming May 7 meeting, District principals received a review of the classes by the former Mexican American Studies director and current Multicultural Program director Dr. Augustine Romero.

The Governing Board has been so removed from the development process that they expressed surprise when they were informed by District administrators last week that administration wants Romero’s “9th-Grade Culture, Identity and Transformation: A Culturally Relevant Viewpoint” to be a requirement for all ninth grade students

However, none of the Board members will be surprised that Romero has used the same Critical Race Theory (CRT) tenets in the new classes as those that were used in the Mexican American Studies classes. Those classes were found to violate state law after Administrative Law Judge Lewis Kowal reviewed over 7000 pieces of evidence including student essays, teacher and parent testimony, and the testimony of an expert in multicultural education.

Romero, a critical race theorist and co-author of Barrio Pedagogy presented his “Multicultural Curriculum Position Paper” to principals across the District. In “A Description of TUSD’s Critical Multicultural Curriculum Courses,” Romero advises principals that “Our critical multicultural curriculum courses offer our students and integrate (sic) diversity of histories, perspectives, and voices across the curriculum.” Romero says that “collaborative classroom activities” will “empower students to critique and challenge the social norms and structural equities that continue to benefit some groups at the expense of others.”

This is the same process of “problematization” or “transformation” that was employed to radicalize a handful of students who lead the takeover of the Governing Board meeting in the spring of 2011. At the meeting the Board had intended to change the old Mexican American Studies into electives rather than keep them as core courses. Romero and other proponents were concerned that if the classes did not satisfy a core requirement, students would not sign-up for them in the future.

In his presentation Romero told principals that  “for many people it is easy and convenient to forget that the United States public school system has an overtly racist and classist history. TUSD can no longer ignore the failures of our traditional pedagogical and curricular methodologies and implementations.”

For Critical Race theorists like Romero it is not enough to broaden the scope of history and literature classes to include a more complete presentation of historical facts and figures. Romero told the principals that “the curriculum has been and is Eurocentric” and students must “rethink their ideologies and values and create an alternative plan of action and finally decide what, if any, actions they take will remedy the issue, if so the students implement the plan.”

The portion Romero’s presentation, “New Trajectory: Student Equity” places little value on academic success and says that his program “will forgo the notion of “at risk” students, which is one way that the current system creates risk and promotes the view that students’ academic performance can be equated with their personal worth as human beings.”

At the same time, Romero says that the “new unitary status plan will address academic outcomes from the civil rights perspective. To be clear we can expect individual differences and academic achievement among students the bigger challenge is addressing the causes of differences and outcomes for groups based on their racial or ethnic status”

Romero openly admits that he is employing Critical Race Theory as the foundation of multicultural curriculum. According to Romero there are several steps to transforming traditional curriculum that merely imparts facts to students to one which would creates student activism against an “Orwellian realism, a shrinking middle class, the perpetuation of privilege, and unrelenting attacks on public education, we must not allow this opportunity to slip from our grasp and we must further understand that somehow against all odds (sic) make a difference.”

Romero explained his theory to the principals and outlined the “Theoretical Stages of Critical Multicultural Transformation,” which range from “slight curricular changes to a fully-revised social awareness and action conceptualizations.”

“These theoretical stages are: Contributions Approach, Ethnic Additive Approach, Transformation Approach and Decision-Making and Social Action Approach.” It is clear in his presentation that Romero favors the radicalization method.

Stage 1- Contributions Approach: In this stage content relating to underserved groups of students is limited to special days, weeks or months and focuses on certain heroes and some holidays. The instruction tends to gloss over important concepts and issues involving the struggle for political power and against racism. It inadvertently serves to other (diminish and trivialize) ethnic cultures by focusing mainly on the most eccentric and exotic characteristics. This approach fortifies stereotypes and misconceptions.

Stage 2 – The Additive Approach: Schools at this stage infuse cultural and ethnic content, concepts, themes, and perspectives into the curriculum without changing the curriculum’s basic structure purposes and characters characteristics. The instruction may simply include the addition of a book or a unit into a course. The effect is still significant. This approach fails to help students view society from diverse cultural and ethnic perspectives and to understand the ways in which the histories and cultures of our nation’s diverse groups are inextricably bound.

Stage 3 – The Transformation Approach: At this stage students view concepts, issues, themes, and problems from several ethnic perspective and points of view. For our historically underserved students, this presents them with the opportunity to research, explore and reflect on their own group’s social, cultural, and historical experiences weighted with the same cultural and curricular capital as a traditional narrative. This infusion extends student understandings of nature, development, and complexity of the U.S. society.

Stage 4 – The Critical/ Social Action Approach: Building onto the elements of the Transformation Approach, this stage require students to make decisions and take actions on issues related to their social condition. In this student-research based approach students name the problem, gather pertinent data, analyze their data, re-examine and rethink their ideologies (sic)and values, and create an alternative plan of action, and finally decide what, if any, action they will take remedy the issue, if so students implement the plan.”

Romero concludes that education is “not a panacea for all the troubles in our world but it may be the next best alternative.” In his conclusion Romero ignores the vast body of evidence that if a student can read by the third grade, they have more chance in the United State of moving from the lower socio-economic classes than anywhere else in the world.

One long-time educator familiar with TUSD spending patterns said of the plan, “By employing a teaching method that has already proved it will not improve student achievement to any significant degree, Romero is helping ensure TUSD continues to enrich itself by collecting desegregation money. The total spending on this failed effort, supposedly to integrate TUSD classes and raise student performance, has already cost TUSD taxpayers well over a billion dollars. This is a great example of how TUSD insiders sacrifice student learning in order to keep open the spigot of desegregation funding. So long as taxpayers provide this perverse incentive for TUSD to fail students opportunists like Romero will continue to promote failed programs in order to continue to get their hands on that money. Romero’s worst nightmare is that TUSD students will significantly improve their academic performance because if that happened the desegregation money would dry up.”

Romero’s plan ignores past failures and continues to reflect a strong reliance on Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which was intended to promote socialist governments from which students cannot migrate out of their assigned social class.

Two years ago when the Critical Race Theory of the classes was revealed to the Governing Board, former member Miguel Cuevas, and current members Michael Hicks and Mark Stegeman said they would not support classes that employed CRT.

Critical race theory was thrown out by the courts in the 1980’s as a basis for legal arguments. The federal court criticized CRT as anti-Semitic and anti-Asian. Federal Judge Richard Posner called critical race theorists the ‘lunatic core’ of radical legal theory.

The TUSD Governing Board will meet today at 4 p.m. at the district’s central offices at 1010 East 10th.

Related articles:

“Mexican American Studies Program materials emphasize the importance of building Latino nationalism”

Federal Judge to Decide Whether Segregated Classrooms Can Promote Hate