“We’ve been hearing in the news about a commission or a study to see how to improve Raza Studies. The only commission that should be coming out of here is how to expand it and how to export it. And everything else is unacceptable.” ~ Dr. Roberto (Dr. Cintli) Rodriguez, Ethnic Studies Professor University of Arizona
Arizona’s HB2281 was passed as a result of classes geared only to Mexican American students in Tucson Unified School District. Tom Horne recognized that the students in these classes were being indoctrinated rather than educated. They separated students by ethnicity and Americans have rejected that sort of segregation since the famous Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. Tucsonans United For Sound Districts is a nonpartisan organization that was invited by two TUSD’s School Board members to weigh in on the subject of Ethnic Studies for elementary and secondary students and HB2281.
In an email from one Tucson Unified School District Board member, TU4SD was told that we needed to bring a “diverse group” to the school board meeting at which the subject of HB2281 and the “Ethnic Studies” classes would be discussed. The implication being that one: the Board would not listen to a bunch of angry white people, and two: we did not have a diverse membership and our group was merely made up of angry white people. Those two basic assumptions reflect the simple minded reliance on stereotypes by the liberal elite and the media which is merely a tool for the ruling elite.
I hate to admit it, but when I received that email I allowed myself a hearty but short laugh. They don’t get it and I am afraid they never will, but there really is nothing funny about such ignorance. They don’t want to believe that good doesn’t come in one color, and anger isn’t held only by one ethnicity or socio-economic class. As a matter of fact, it is the angry adults of TUSD’s Ethnic Studies program who are targeting children of one ethnicity and exploiting them for their political purposes that brought us before the TUSD School Board on the night of December 14, 2010. It was the night that two very brave and noble Latina women stood up against hate and exploitation and reclaimed our country’s public schools for all children.
Despite the harassment and threats by Mexican American/Raza Studies proponents previously experienced by Tucsonans United for Sound District’s advisory Board members Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, and Emily Jernee they stood before the Board and stood for up for the belief that separate is inherently unequal. These amazing women endured the abuse and heckling to deliver the message that Americans love our children, all of our children and we will not allow hate and fear mongers to win their hearts and minds. The following is Gabriela Saucedo Mercer’s address:
My name is Gabriela Saucedo Mercer and I am a member of the Advisory Board for Tucsonans United For Sound Districts. I come before TUSD Governing Board on behalf of a community that values its public schools and whose taxpaying members work hard every day to support those schools.
I come here tonight on behalf of the parents and students at those schools who depend on you and your good judgment to protect their classrooms.
I come to you on behalf of countless educators and school staff that tell members of the community that they are fearful of losing their jobs because you appear to be unwilling to use good judgment.
Most importantly, I come to you on behalf of a sometimes frightened and almost always invisible community of private individuals, parents, students, and teaching professionals who have been silenced by this Board, district employees. Since Tucsonans United first began its involvement with the ethnic studies issue we have met with many victims of the District’s Raza/Mexican American program’s systematic abuse have sought us out to share how they were punished because they dared to question that program. We ourselves have experienced firsthand the successful attempt by this Board and Raza Studies supporters to silence individuals who would come before it as we have to simply join Mr. Michael Hicks and Dr. Mark Stegeman in their request for a review of Raza/Mexican American curriculum and pedagogy.
We heard from those you ignored. We have done the job you were elected to do. The parents who have related their experiences have trusted this district for years. The teaching professionals to whom we have spoken with us have served this district faithfully for a great many years. They cared for our community’s children, and due to their efforts to protect those children they were systematically terrorized by your staff. Children are recruited and encouraged to engage in the intimidating behavior as well. At least two adults have related to us information about the witch hunt conducted by children to discover and expose “racists” among the teaching ranks.
When we first came before the Board, we predicted correctly that you, La Raza/Mexican American Studies staff and ethnic studies proponents will take every opportunity to marginalize us with the one accusation that ends all attempts to engage in a reasonable discussion. You have labeled us racists.
We will not be silenced, we will not be marginalized, and you will not succeed in making us one more victim of false accusations. We will continue to act responsibly even if you do not. We will continue to engage the public in a free exchange of ideas while you will not. We will continue to work to preserve our public schools while you work to deprive children in TUSD schools of the quality education they deserve.
The following is Emily Jernee’s address:
My name is Emily Jernee and I am also a member of the advisory board for Tucsonans United for Sound Districts. I am here today before you to offer my perspective of the ethnic studies program based on my education that I have been blessed to receive throughout most of my life. I lived and attended school in Mexico for 11 years. I embarked on my education in Mexican primary school and proceeded through to high school. It was there that my teachers taught me to love my Latina AND American ethnicity.
In my primary through middle school education we were issued government approved books and curriculums. We took History, Geography, and Ethics classes. In History they taught us primarily about Mexico, it was events from the days of the Spanish discovery all the way to present day. We were never taught about imaginary countries like Aztlan. As a matter of fact all my Mexican teachers always told us about how in 1848 Santa Ana sold Mexican land to the United states and how we would always remember how Santa Ana was a disgrace and a coward. In Geography we were taught the locations of every state and their capitals. It wasn’t until I moved to the United States that I actually heard of the land of Aztlan for the first time. None of my schools ever mentioned this fictional place. We also had Ethics which we started in grade 4; these classes helped us to be well versed on how our government system worked and our rights, such as our right to an education. In high school, considered of great importance was Pythagoras’s theorem, derivatives, and the bases of Calculus, but they also taught us about confidence and how to be empowered with the knowledge of how our government works and how WE can be a PART of it rather than a victim of it.
After all this, I can conclude by saying that I love the United States and Mexico. I have seen much of the materials from the “Raza studies,” and I as a Hispanic who is not self-loathing find the Raza Studies to be loathsome. It is contains much incorrect information that I was not taught in school. I was never taught to hate Americans of any color; as a matter of fact we loved America so much that it was obligatory to take English classes almost daily for all 11 years I was there.
This issue is about the future of the children and our beloved America because this is a great and tolerant country as are every school district in it, except TUSD, We should strive to end hate not teach it. And in the words of Martin Luther King, “Silence is Betrayal,” and WE will not be silent.
Gabriela is currently running as a candidate for the U.S. Congress. Emily is an eighteen year old student at the University of Arizona. As a democrat, I can proudly say that both are women of amazing grace and their love for children and our great country is evident in everything they do. Please visit Tucsonans United for Sound Districts at our website www.TU4SD.com for more information.