MAS used to be called "Raza" studies ("la raza" means "the race" in Spanish). It was found by an objective administrative judge to be in violation of Arizona's law prohibiting dividing students by race, teaching ethnic chauvinism, or teaching resentment toward other races, and was then canceled by the Tucson Unified School District governing board.
Rodriguez complains of alleged death threats. Obviously, we would all condemn any such threats. But he did not object loudly when the students in the program performed a street play called "The Killing of Tom Horne," in which a student wore a mask made of my picture and was "killed" by the other students. (News videos of this event and detailed information about the course can be viewed at www.azag.gov under the heading "TUSD Ethnic Studies.")
He says the process that led to the dismantling of MAS was "but a metaphorical attempted assassination against an entire culture." No, professor. You get an F on that one.
This law was written to affirm the fundamental American value that we are all individuals, that what is important is our knowledge and character, and not what race we were born into, and that students should be taught to treat each other as individuals, rather than based on race.
The designer of MAS wrote that it is based on the Marxist philosophy of Paolo Freire, which looks at all of history as the oppression of one class by another. He "racimized" (his term) this philosophy, so that all of history is viewed as the oppression of one race by another. The course questions the legitimacy of the Southwest being part of the U.S., because it was taken from Mexico in 1848.
Teachers with firsthand knowledge testified that students in this class underwent a change -- becoming angry, distrustful of teachers, negative toward Western civilization and the U.S., and disrespectful of authority of non-Latinos. The administrative judge found that the course was taught in a "biased, political, and emotionally charged manner."
One result was ostracism of non-Latino students. A parent testified that her non-Latina daughter expressed distress over the fact that the Latino students would not talk to her by the end of the MAS class semester. And another parent testified that her daughter wanted to withdraw from MAS because she did not want to learn to hate her White mother and love only her Latino father.
Arizona's history standards require, in considerable detail, that all students be taught about the contributions of different groups. But they should not be divided by race and taught only about their own group. School is a place to broaden horizons, not narrow them. And students should be taught to treat others as individuals, and not on the basis of race.
Attorney General Tom Horne was previously the state's superintendent of public instruction.