TUSD’s Mexican American Studies “is not about producing students to be “cogs” for our capitalistic machine”

“Education is not about producing students to be “cogs” for our capitalistic machine, nor is it not about producing productive students who can go out and “get a good job” oblivious to the undemocratic practices of our government.” TUSD’s Mexican American Studies lesson plan, Rehumanization, Critical Pedagogy and Student Voice.

Most of us expect our public schools to prepare our children for good jobs in the hope they will become productive members of society. Most people also believe that public schools ought to help maintain social order, promote the social welfare and promote the habits of living in a democratic society.

Through our republican processes, social and political forces shaped the philosophy that underlies the curricula employed in our country’s public schools. Each state may have different standards, but with few exceptions states and/or school districts do not allow ideology to trump science and reason. Arizona may be one of those “exceptional” states, and TUSD is certainly one of those “exceptional” districts.

Due to the forces that shaped American values, we tend to value individuality more than many other societies. Like their counterparts around the globe, our educators do demand compliance with rules, but unlike many of their counterparts around the globe they tend to have a greater appreciation and understanding of individual efforts. Reasonable people can argue over how much weight ought to be given to “effort” rather than actual mastery of a body of knowledge, but there is no denying that the United States is still a world leader in producing graduates who excel at thinking “out of the box.”

The value we place on individuality is one of the guiding principles in the development of our American public school curriculum, and conscientious educators do not allow their own political beliefs to color their treatment of the state’s curriculum nor their interactions with students. In most states, indoctrination of students is an ethical offense that can be punished with the loss of a teacher’s license to teach. Below, we will share direct quotations from a particular unit plan that is used in TUSD’s Mexican-American Studies program. Readers can gauge for themselves whether or not the ideology expressed is consonant with the values the vast majority of Americans believe public schools ought to promote.

The intent of TUSD’s Mexican American Studies lesson plans in the unit, Rehumanization, Critical Pedagogy And Student Voice, authored by Jose Gonzales, “is two fold (sic): for students to begin that rebirth process of rehumanization and awaken the student’s conscious in order to act in a more humane and proactive manner thus transforming oneself and their world.”

“The institution of education insidiously and very methodically, attacks the student’s spiritual, social, and political conscious; thus domesticating and pacifying the child. It is my professional belief that we as educators must work to challenge and counter this domestication process.”

“Students will be introduced to Nahuatl concepts that will be the cornerstone of the unit. The concepts are based on the Ancient Mexika (Aztec) Calendar System.”

“Education becomes a process of liberation in which the students are actively engaged in the re-humanizing process, critically defining and exposing their reality and finally working to transform their world. Thereby, taking an active roll(sic) in the shaping of their future by transforming their present state. This unit is embodied by the late Paulo Freire quote and a hope for a better tomorrow:”

“To surmount the situation of oppression, people must first critically recognize its causes, so that through transforming action they can create a new situation, one which makes possible a fuller humanity. But the struggle to be more fully human has already begun in the authentic struggle to transform the situation. …The pedagogy of the oppressed, which is the pedagogy of people engaged in the fight for their own liberation, has its roots here”.

It must be pointed out that this unit is part of a curriculum that has never been presented to the public for discussion or debate. Most of it only was presented in any form as part of the discovery process during TUSD’s appeal of a determination that the program violates Arizona law. It has never been approved by the TUSD Governing Board. Many readers may not like the results of our government’s actions; however that does not mean that they were not authorized through democratic processes and practices. That last statement does not apply to this curriculum.

It appears that the TUSD employee, Jose Gonzales is suggesting two things in this unit. First, he is clearly saying that the Aztec value system was more humane than ours, and thus a return to that past value system would be a good thing for today’s TUSD students. Though Mr. Gonzales may deny it, an overwhelming majority of historians agree the Aztecs practiced both human slavery and human sacrifice. Is he suggesting that these values are superior to those promoted in the vast majority of American schools? Secondly, he is suggesting that he and his colleagues in the MAS program ought to have the right to use whatever curriculum they develop without the imprimatur of the TUSD Governing Board? This is in direct contradiction to both the laws of Arizona (and every other state) and the democratic principle that public schools…including their curricular offerings…are governed by the public.

Through their veneration of the Aztec culture and through their support for anti-democratic decision-making processes the staff of the MAS program and their supporters have presented their world view. In its anti-democratic spirit this worldview is entirely consonant with the worldview of Soviet Russia, Communist China and Nazi Germany. It is widely understood that the TUSD MAS curriculum was founded on the principles of Marxist author Paulo Freire and developed in keeping with the teachings of Marxist professors, such as Peter McLaren. In its determination that the Aztec culture and value system was superior to our own, it presents an entirely reactionary view of the world.

Materials provided courtesy TU4SD

Editor’s note: The Mexican American Curriculum continually refers the students as indigenous. It is been difficult to ascertain to which indigenous group they supposedly belong. The Native American curriculum and classes prescribed by federal law, are separate from the MAS classes and are for members of recognized tribes. The use of the term “indigenous” as any kind of marker is fraught with problems; too many to discuss here.

The video below by Tupac Enrique Acosta, an “elder” revered in the MAS materials, may provide some insight into what indigenous group the MAS curriculum refers.

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