Journal of Educational Controversy

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

An Analysis of the Court Decision that Found the Banning of the Mexican American Curriculum Unconstitutional


Editor: We invited authors, Leslie Locke and Ann Blankenship, to provide our readers with an analysis of the recent court decision finding the banning of the Mexican American curriculum in Tucson, Arizona to be unconstitutional.   Their earlier publication in Volume 10 of our journal was titled, “Keeping the Flames at Bay:The Interplay between Federal Oversight and State Politics in Tucson’s MexicanAmerican Studies Program.”  Their article was part of a series of articles that this journal has published on this issue. Others included:The Hypocrisy of Racism: Arizona's Movement towards State-Sanctioned Apartheid” by Augustine F. Romero, “Dangerous Minds In Tucson: The Banning of Mexican American Studies and Critical Thinking In Arizona” by Curtis Acosta, and “Precious Knowledge: An Interview with Film Director, Ari Palos, on April 15, 2013” by Celina Meza.  We are pleased to provide our readers with the latest update on this vital issue, and thank Leslie and Ann for their in-depth analysis of this decade-long litigation .



Good News about Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Program from the United States District Court District of Arizona!

 

By Leslie A. Locke and Ann E. Blankenship

 

 

  
It’s been a long road. But, the court finally, after years of political struggle and legal debate, supported what MAS students, parents, and teachers have always known--that the attempts at squashing the program was backed by racism and white fragility (DiAngelo, 2011) for political gain.  The court said as much in their August 2017 decision, where they noted the deconstruction of MAS was “motivated by a desire to advance a political agenda by capitalizing on race-based fears” (p. 42), and had little to zero basis in fact.  

 

The Mexican American studies program (MAS) in TUSD had been instituted as a response to a federal desegregation plan in effect in TUSD since 1978.  The MAS program, like its counterparts such as African American Studies and Asian American Studies, was an educational program that while open to any student, was centered on the Mexican American experience and history in order to forge a connection between students and the curriculum.  The MAS program was successful as evidenced by student achievement and outcomes.

 

However, a series of unfortunate events, based on illogical, as well as thin and one-sided evidence, started their course in 2006.  We won’t go into great detail here in retelling these events as much as been written about them (e.g., Acosta, 2013a/2013b; Cabrera et al., 2014; Cammarota, 2009/2012/2014; Palos et al., 2011; Romero, 2010).  In short, conservative politicians in Arizona (ironically the State Superintendents of Instruction--those elected to best serve all students in the state) dug their heels and set in with a laser focus on eliminating the MAS program by making fantastical connections between it and communism, ethnic chauvinism, rudeness, hate speech, and anti-Americanism, among other things.  

 

Here is a summary of some of the legal history that guides us to the most recent decision.

 

In 2010, the Arizona legislature passed HB 2281 (codified into statute as Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §§ 15-111 and 15-112) prohibiting a school district or charter school from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that “(1) Promote the overthrow of the Unites States Government, (2) Promote resentment toward a race or class of people, (3) Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, or (4) Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” ARS § 15-112(a). In his last days in office as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, concluded that the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Mexican-American Studies program (MAS) violated ARS § 15-112 and ordered TUSD to either eliminate the program or lose 10% of its state funding. Shortly thereafter, John Huppenthal replaced Horne as State Superintendent.  Huppenthal, claiming that he wanted all the facts before enforcing Horne’s decision, hired Cambium Learning, Inc. to conduct an investigation of MAS.  Despite Cambium’s conclusion that MAS did not violate ARS § 15-112, Huppenthal conducted an independent investigation, determining that MAS did in fact violate the law.  Facing a 10% reduction in state funding, which is essentially all of the district’s liquidity, TUSD eliminated MAS.

 

In October 2010, teachers and students of TUSD filed suit against Huppenthal as Superintendent of Public Instruction claiming that ARS § 15-112 as enacted and enforced violated their constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.  The case was tried and appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who ruled that ARS § 15-112 was not unconstitutional on its face but left the door open for subsequent challenges, noting “Even if § 15-112 is not facially discriminatory, however, the statute and/or its subsequent enforcement against the MAS program would still be unconstitutional if its enactment or the manner in which it was enforces were motivated by a discriminatory purpose” (Arce v. Douglas, 793 F.3d 968, 977 (9th Cir. 2015)).

 

That brings us to the federal court’s most recent review of the Arizona legislation and subsequent elimination of the TUSD MAS program.  On August 22, 2017, the United States District Court (District of Arizona) issued its decision in González v. Douglas.  The action, brought by students and their parents against Diane Douglas, the current Superintendent for Public Instruction for the State of Arizona, alleged that Arizona’s enactment and enforcement of Arizona Revised Statute §§ 15-111 and 15-112, eliminating the Tucson Unified School District Mexican-American Studies program (MAS), violated students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights.  After an exhaustive recounting of the facts of the case, the District Court broke its conclusion of law down by counts, first focusing on the Fourteenth Amendment claim then the First Amendment Claim.

 

            In considering the Fourteenth Amendment claims, that the enactment and enforcement of ARS § 15-112 was motivated by discriminatory purpose, the court noted that the plaintiff’s had to prove that discrimination was one but not the only purpose of enactment and enforcement.  To determine whether an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor in the enactment and enforcement of the legislation, the court looked at direct and circumstantial evidence of intent, including: (1) the impact of the official action and whether it bears more heavily on one race than another; (2) the historical background of the decision; (3) the specific sequence of events leadings to the challenged action; (4) the defendant’s departures from normal procedures or substantive conclusions; and (5) the relevant legislative or administrative history (González v. Douglas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141671, *39).

 

            Relying largely on public comments made by Horne, blog comments Huppenthal made under a pseudonym, and comments from other Arizona legislators, the court concluded that Arizona’s enactment and enforcement of ARS § 15-112 were motivated by discriminatory intent.  The court really focused on the intent of Horne and Huppenthal as key players in the efforts to get ARS § 15-112 enacted and enforced.  The court’s review of Huppenthal’s public and private statements regarding MAS left little doubt of his intent to discriminate.  The court included dozens of Huppenthal’s quotes in opinion.  Some of the most egregious include statements Huppenthal made on his blog under a pseudonym, which the court thought were most revealing of his true state of mind:

 

No Spanish radio stations, no Spanish billboards, no Spanish TV stations, no Spanish newspapers.  This is America, speak English.

I don’t mind them selling Mexican food as long as the menus are mostly in English.

MAS = KKK in a different color.

The rejection of American values and embracement of the values of Mexico in La Raza classrooms is the rejection of success and embracement of failure.

The Mexican-American Studies classes use the same technique that Hitler used in his rise to power.  In Hitler’s case it was the Sudetenland.  In Mexican-American Studies case, it’s Aztlán (internal citations omitted). (González, p. 26)

 

            In addition to the intent of Huppenthal et al., the court concluded that MAS’s enforcement bore more heavily on Latinx students who were already the subject of historic discrimination in Tucson (as evidenced by its desegregation court order still in effect today), that the sequence of events were out of the ordinary, and that there was an illogical departure from normal procedures.  Of particular interest here was Huppenthal’s conclusion that MAS violated ARS § 15-112 despite the Cambium report to the contrary, despite his having no first hand information about the actual curriculum taught in MAS classes.  Overall, the court found sufficient evidence of racial animus against Latinx student in the enactment and enforcement of ARS § 15-112 by Horne, Huppenthal, and others, noting:

 

The sequence of events included no attempt to conduct a good faith, objective evaluation of the MAS program’s teachings and efficacy, other than the Cambium audit, which is rejected out of hand.  Instead, in enacting the statute, the legislature, Horne, and Huppenthal relied on and presented biased accounts of the MAS program that were based on limited evidence and laced with terms fairly understood to refer negatively to perceived traits of Mexican Americans. (González, p. 28).

 

Given the total weight of the evidence presented, the court further concluded that Horne and Huppenthal did not testify credibly regarding their own motivations at enactment and enforcement of ARS § 15-112.

 

            Relying on the same body of evidence, the court ruled that the enactment and enforcement of ARS § 15-112 also constituted a violation of the students’ First Amendment right to receive information because the elimination of MAS was not reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns, but instead racial animus.  The court concluded that Horne and Huppenthal’s were motivated by political gain, capitalizing on voter’s race-based fears, rather than pedagogical concern.

 

            The court will determine an appropriate remedy after parties have an opportunity to file briefs and replies, hopefully by the end of the calendar year.

 

            One of the many unsettling aspects of this strange, and sad but true story, is that it was sparked and supported by those who were elected to serve in the best interests of all students in TUSD.  Horne, Huppenthal, and their political allies have shown a complete lack of interest in the welfare of students in TUSD.  Moreover, they outrightly targeted Latinx students.  Importantly, while the original MAS program has been successfully suppressed and marginalized since 2010, thousands of students have been denied the opportunity to take advantage of a highly successful educational program tailored to the Mexican American experience and history.  They were denied all the benefits those classes were known to provide--including increased achievement and positive impacts on graduation. Horne and Huppenthal failed to make any efforts to understand the curriculum (the court confirmed that they indeed never visited a MAS class, reviewed the program curriculum, and rather cherry picked texts and presented them out of context).  These politicians’ willingness to deny students, not just those who would have been in MAS program, but all the students of TUSD, access to proven successful educational programming and opportunities to achieve, should not be disregarded or forgotten.  They openly and unabashedly misused their political power.  And they so hypocritically called MAS students “rude.”

 

Congratulations to the plaintiffs and to all who fought this fight and endured this long and often absurd road.  You have been heard, finally.  We look forward to reading about how the excellent MAS teachers will use this immediate experience to study and explore institutional racism, systemic bias, the political process, white supremacy, and white fragility.  While it was an unfortunate series of events, we image they will make great curriculum exhibits.

 
 
References

Acosta, C. (2013a). Dangerous minds in Tucson: The banning of Mexican American Studies and critical thinking in Arizona. Journal of Educational Controversy, 8(1), 1-18.  Retrieved from
http://cedar.wwu.edu/jec/vol8/iss1/9/

Acosta, C. (2013b, October 17). Interview with Curtis Acosta. [Video File]. Bellingham, WA: Western Washington University. Retrieved from  
Blankenship, A.E. & Locke, L.A. (2015).  Culturally conscious curriculum: The fight between state and federal policies in Tucson.  Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 18(4), 338-349.

Cabrera, N. L., Milem, J. F., Jaquette, O., & Marx, R. W. (2014). Missing the (student achievement) forest for all the (political) trees: Empiricism and the Mexican American Studies
controversy in Tucson. American Educational Research Journal, 51, 1084-1118.

Cammarota, J. (2009). The generational battle for curriculum: Figuring race and culture on the border. Transforming Anthropology, 17, 117-130.

Cammarota, J. (2012). TUSD MAS ban: Educational sovereignty in the wake of state repression. Journal of Reading Education, 37(2), 5-6.

Cammarota, J. (2014). Challenging colorblindness in Arizona: Latina/o students’ counter-narratives of race and racism. Multicultural Perspectives, 16, 79-85.

DiAngelo, R. (2011). White fragility. The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 3(3), 54-70.

Locke, L. & Blankenship, A. (2016).  Keeping the flames at bay: The interplay between federal oversight and state politics in Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program.  Journal of Educational Controversy, 10(1).  Retrieved from http://cedar.wwu.edu/jec/vol10/iss1/2  

Palos, A.L., McGinnis, E., Fifer, S.J., Bricca, J., & Amor, N. (Producers). (2011). Precious knowledge [DVD]. Dos Vatos Productions.

Romero, A.F. (2010). At war with the state in order to save the lives of our children: The battle to save ethnic studies in Arizona. [Special issue: Defending ethnic studies in Arizona].  The Black Scholar, 40(4), 7-15.


 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

In Memoriam: Evelyn Wright


I am saddened to announce the passing of Evelyn Wright on September 22, 2017.  Evelyn was the associate editor of our journal since its inception and a member of the English Department at Western Washington University.  She also taught many of the English methods courses for teachers at the Woodring College of Education before retiring.

For Evelyn, preparing prospective teachers was more than providing teaching methods.  It involved helping teachers to work with a text on a deeper level that enabled them to construct experiences for their students’ own struggle with meaning.  She also explored the influence of policy and the courts on the teaching of reading.  In “School English and Public Policy” (College English, Volume 42, Number 4), Evelyn analyzed the Ann Arbor, Michigan court decision on the use of ebonics or black English in the teaching of reading against an historical background of the conceptions of literacy and school language policies in American schools. Her analysis raised serious social and cultural questions on the implications of these policies for rethinking notions of equal educational opportunity and social justice.  Long after she retired, she would continue to provide lectures on the case for our students with her visits to our classes.

The scope of her understanding brought a rich experience to all the students she touched over the years, a legacy that continues in the teaching of future generations of teachers. Evelyn gave me an enriched understanding of the power of literature and a friendship that spanned some forty years.

 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Interview with the New Dean of the Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University


Editor: The Journal of Educational Controversy welcomes the new dean of the Woodring College of Education, the home of the journal.   Dean Horacio Walker shares some of his thoughts and background in the interview below.



1.      What was it about the Woodring College of Education that attracted you?

 
I am attracted to Woodring’s vision of honoring diversities and promoting social justice. I believe that inequality is the most important problem facing today’s world. Most violence and discrimination affecting people in different countries and cultures is rooted in unequal rights and opportunities.  Without a vision on inclusion of all people in education and development opportunities, these problems cannot be properly addressed. I believe that colleges of education are in a privileged position to influence a social justice agenda around the globe. 

 
I was also interested in the faculty and the programs they have developed for the College. A few years ago, I was impressed with a presentation done by a small delegation from Woodring at a conference on field experiences in teacher education held at the Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile, where I was dean.  It was clear from the presentation, that the College valued strong partnerships with the community and wanted the prospective teachers to have genuine experiences in diverse contexts. I thought that the vision and the mission of the College was reflected in the way they structured and organized the process through which the preservice teachers  learn how to teach and in the type of partnerships they foster with school districts and individual schools.

 
2.      What do you believe are the most important challenges facing education and Schools of Education in the political and social context of our time?

 
Education’s most important challenge today is removing barriers that prevent learning and the development of the full child in schools. There are financial barriers, such as having food on the table and appropriate housing. There are also socio-emotional barriers, such as unsupportive family and school environments for children and young people. There are cultural barriers, such as beliefs about gender, race and sexual orientation. There are educational barriers, such as unequal access to relevant and quality learning and non-inclusive school environments that induce negativity among the students and reproduce inequality in everyday practices.   There are also political barriers, such as top-down policies that inhibit partnerships between schools, the family and the community.
 
Colleges of Education generally address some of these barriers. However, I believe that a systemic approach to education is needed to understand how all of these barriers are connected.  In Woodring we are privileged to have academic programs preparing students in teacher education and also in health and community studies which provide different perspectives on how systems work.

 
3.      Could you share your basic philosophy of education with us?

 
My basic philosophy of education is reflected in four main principles. First, education is lifelong learning which must focus on the whole person, fostering conditions for social, emotional and cultural development.  Second, learning must be supported by a system of interrelated factors, i.e. the family, the local community, the state and the federal government. Third, educators must work to remove barriers that prevent all children and youth from accessing and succeeding in educational opportunities. Teachers and schools should have the highest expectations for all. Fourth, education needs to be a public reference of inclusion and diverse communities. Public schools are best suited to prepare new citizens to contribute for an equitable and democratic society. It is a moral imperative that governments must protect and support public education. 

 
4.      What would you want our students, colleagues and readers to know about you as a person?

 
I grew up in the capital city of Santiago, Chile. Two childhood experiences influenced my vision on education and inspired me to work in the field my entire career.

Growing up I experienced the effects of socioeconomic segregation. Families were grouped in neighborhoods according to their common background, and children were grouped in schools where everyone looked similar.    

In 10th grade, I was able to participate in a service-learning program organized by my high school. I travelled to the south of Chile to help shantytown dwellers build their own homes with government financial support. For the first time I met several  people who grew up in a different part of the country, who had barely made it through elementary school and who could not access secondary education.  I was not ready to understand why.  I remember vividly hearing them say to me over and over, “I want you to work hard, go to college - don’t go through what we have experienced.” Those words have stayed with me forever. As I went through college, I understood that they were victims of social and economic oppression that had condemned their families to poverty.

In 1973, during my first year in University, President Salvador Allende, who was democratically elected in 1970, was overthrown by a military coup that ruled the country through the early 90s. I lived my entire university years under a curfew - hearing shootings at night and listening to horror stories about people disappearing and being tortured. Yet I was prepared to teach in that environment. However, I was not able to get a job in a public school, as all were under control of the military regime. Instead, I began my career in non-formal education, supporting community-based organizations struggling to help themselves address basic needs.  Those experiences, framed by Paulo Freire’s work, shaped my basic philosophy of education all during my career, in different contexts and institutional settings. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Colleges and Universities Take a Stand in Support of their DACA Students


Colleges and Universities Take a Stand in Support of their DACA Students


Many colleges and universities are taking a stand in support of their DACA Students in light of the Trump Administration’s rescinding of the Obama 2012 executive order for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program and the phasing out of it over the next six months.

Here in Washington State, the presidents of Washington`s six public baccalaureate colleges and universities, 34 community and technical colleges, 10 members of the Independent Colleges of Washington, as well as the 10 members of the Washington Student Achievement Council issued a statement of support for DACA. 


Nationwide, over 650 college and university presidents from public and private institutions across the United States have signed a statement entitled, “Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students.”  
 




The Association of American Colleges & Universities also issued the following response along with some additional links and resources:

AAC&U Responds to DACA Decision

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Last week, AAC&U joined three dozen other higher education organizations as signatories to a letter urging President Trump to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and fulfill his promise to treat the Dreamers “with heart.” We are disappointed by the recent decision made by the Trump Administration to end the DACA program. AAC&U will continue to work with our member institutions to advocate for immigration policies and programs that ensure protections for the approximately 800,000 individuals who contribute greatly to the schools in which they are enrolled, the communities in which they live, and the democracy they serve.

The decision to end DACA, compounded with recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and tensions felt on campuses across the country, makes even more critical the role of our institutions not only in shaping the agenda for higher education, but in serving as a national voice on issues of racial and social justice. AAC&U stands alongside its 1,400 members in reaffirming a deep and abiding commitment to the values of diversity, inclusion, and equity as critical to the well-being of our democratic society and as the cornerstones of excellence in liberal education.

Additional links and resources:

HowHigher-Education Leaders Are Fighting for DACA (The Atlantic, September 1, 2017)



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Federal Court Rules that Arizona’s Banning of the Mexican American Studies Program was Discriminatory and Motivated by Racial Animas


A U.S. District Court has ruled that the banning of the Mexican American Curriculum in Tucson, Arizona was discriminatory and motivated by racial animus.


We have been following the events following the banning of the Mexican American Studies Program in the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona in our journal, on our blog and in several panels and forums that were videotaped and made available to our readers.  See “The Hypocrisy of Racism: Arizona's Movement towards State-SanctionedApartheid” by Augustine F. Romero, “Dangerous Minds In Tucson: The Banning of Mexican American Studies andCritical Thinking In Arizona” by Curtis Acosta, “Precious Knowledge: An Interview with Film Director, Ari Palos, on April15, 2013” by Celina Meza, and “Keeping the Flames at Bay: The Interplay between Federal Oversight andState Politics in Tucson’s Mexican American Studies Program,” by Leslie A. Locke and Ann E. Blankenship.

We will provide an extensive analysis of the court decision in a future post on this blog. Check back.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Some Resources for Teaching about Charlottesville


Some Resources for Teaching about Charlottesville

We are gathering some resources for teaching about the horrific events that have taken place in Charlottesville.  Below are some of them. 

l. Facing History

“Message from Roger Brooks: Teaching About Charlottesville”


The Learning Network

“Teaching Activities for: ‘Man Charged After White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville Ends in Deadly Violence‘ “


 3. Washington Post

“The first thing teachers should do when school starts is talk about hatred in America. Here’s help.”


 4. Education Week Teacher

“Teachers Share Resources for Addressing Charlottesville Hate Rally in the Classroom”


 5. Northwest Public Radio

“Resources For Educators To Use In The Wake Of Charlottesville”


6. Southern Poverty Law Center

“SPLC releases new edition of Ten Ways to Fight Hate guide after Charlottesville attack”


Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide


 6. Rethinking Schools Blog

This article first appeared on AlterNet

“7 Ways Teachers Can Respond to the Evil of Charlottesville, Starting Now:  An educator confronts the failures of an education system that breeds white supremacy”



7. The Choices Program, Brown University

History in Dispute: Charlottesville and Confederate Monuments
  • Understand the idea of historical memory.
  • Contextualize recent events in Charlottesville within a larger historical controversy.
  • Apply the concept of historical memory to the controversy over Confederate monuments.
  • Appraise media sources that express a range of views on Confederate monuments.


 I will continue to add to this list.  Check our list above to see additions.

WHERE WERE THE VOICES OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AND SECRETARY OF EDUCATION BETSY DEVOS:

“Faced with the domestic terrorism at Charlottesville, Betsy DeVos fails another test”

The Hechinger Report


 

 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

What George Washington and Donald Trump have in Common


In these lazy days of summer, we might pepper it with some experiments in thought.  Can you think of anything that our first president, George Washington, might have in common with the current occupant of that position, Donald Trump?  Well, there actually is something that both of them have in common.  When Washington was commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, he nobly declined a salary and only requested that his expenses be covered, something that the Continental Congress may have regretted.  In place of his $500 a month salary, Washington presented them with a meticulous account of expenses that some claim amounted to $160,074 while others claim was closer to $449,261.51, depending on how you calculate monetary amounts prior to the nation state. Still it was an amount considerably higher than a salary of $48000 over that eight-year revolutionary war period. "As to pay, Sir," he wrote, "I beg leave to Assure the Congress that no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to have accepted this Arduous employment at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make a profit from it: I will keep an exact Account of my expenses; these I doubt not they will discharge and that is all I desire." To view a list of expenses that Washington recorded, check out the records at the Library of Congress. Another account is located at the National Archives in RG 56, General Records - Treasury Department. 

Our current president, Donald Trump, has likewise offered to decline his salary.  And like Washington, the government and taxpayers are covering expenses, including a widely reported figure in the millions for his frequent visits to his weekend resorts.    No one knows what the final accounting is going to be. Thus, Trump joins two other wealthy presidents who refused to take a salary – John Kennedy and Herbert Hoover.  Question: If the money is donated to a charity or to the Treasury Department, can it be claimed as a deduction for charitable contributions on his taxes  ---  a question simply not applicable for our comparison with our first president.

But what do these musings have to do with a blog dedicated to education.  Well, for one thing, Trump’s second quarter salary was just donated to the Department of Education for the furthering of stem education.  The donation that amounted to $100,000 was accepted by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos who praised the president for his generous gift that she says has shown his “commitment to our nation’s students” so all have “access to a high quality education.”  Of course, Trump’s recent budget recommendation will also result in a 13.5 percent spending cut to the department that amounts to $9.2 billion dollars.

It’s going to be hot summer.  Muse on.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How do you react to this AP headline: “Ex-school official: Radicals taught Mexican-American program”


The article, “Ex-school official: Radicals taught Mexican-American program,” written by Astrid Galvan of the Associated Press appeared in a number of newspapers today including the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Of course, the headline is true in so far as the idea that radicals taught the Mexican-American program in the schools of Tucson was claimed by an ex-school official, but might be misleading if you don’t question the truth of the assertion by the former school official.  The Journal of Educational Controversy has published a number of articles on the banning of the Mexican American curriculum in Tucson, Arizona.  After reading the articles in the Washington Post or the New York Times, take a look at one of our journal’s articles on what actually occurred inside one of those classrooms.  You can find the article, “Dangerous Minds inTucson: The Banning of Mexican American Studies and Critical Thinking in Arizona,” by Curtis Acosta, a former teacher in the school district, in our 2014 Volume 8 issue.  The theme for that issue was, “WhoDefines the Public in Public Education.”

Sunday, July 9, 2017

SPLC Denounces Letter from Attorneys General Seeking Repeal of DACA


The article below is reprinted with permission of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 
SPLC Denounces Letter from 10 Attorneys General Seeking ‘cruel and heartless’ Repeal of DACA

June 30, 2017

 
The Southern Poverty Law Center this week denounced a letter signed by 10 state attorneys general as “cruel and heartless” because it asks the Department of Justice to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Under DACA, which was created by the Obama administration, the federal government has granted reprieves from deportation to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.

“Attorneys general from 10 states are egging the federal government on to be more cruel and heartless in its approach to immigration,” said Naomi Tsu, SPLC deputy legal director. “The letter requests that the Department of Justice revoke protections for immigrant youth and begin targeting for deportation these young people who have grown up as Americans.

“These attacks will prevent children, many of whom know no other home, from working legally and reaching their full potential. If the Trump administration follows through on this request, they will be responsible for further pushing immigrant communities underground, making communities less safe, less prosperous and more divided.”

The 10 state attorneys general who signed the letter are Steve Marshall of Alabama, Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas, Lawrence G. Wasden of Idaho, Derek Schmidt of Kansas, Jeff Landry of Louisiana, Doug Peterson of Nebraska, Alan Wilson of South Carolina, Ken Paxton of Texas, Herbert Slatery III of Tennessee, and Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter also signed the letter.

The SPLC has fought for young immigrants in danger of being deported, in spite of DACA. In March, the SPLC, along with others, won the release of Daniela Vargas from the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Vargas, a 22-year-old DACA recipient, was detained by ICE agents shortly after speaking at a Jackson, Mississippi, press conference on March 1 about her hope that she and other young immigrants could remain in the United States and contribute to the country they’ve long called home.

The SPLC and others filed court papers seeking the immediate release of Vargas, who was brought to the United States from Argentina at age 7.

 Editor: Here is a link to the letter sent by the ten attorneys general to the Justice Department.
For an informative and sensitive article published in our journal, read: "A DREAM Deported: What Undocumented American Youth Need their Schools to Understand," in our Volume 7 issue at http://cedar.wwu.edu/jec/vol7/iss1/10/

Friday, June 9, 2017

Budget in Crisis - The Latest on Funding Public Education in the state of Washington


In 2012 the Washington state Supreme Court ruled in the McCleary decision that the state constitution is being violated. K-12 public schools in Washington are underfunded in direct violation of the state’s constitution which states that “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.[1] 2014 found the issue still far from being resolved and the justices held the state in contempt for failure to progress with legislation that will fully fund public schools. In 2015 the court added a $100,000 per day fine against the state. Instead of passing legislation that would resolve this issue in 2016, Senate Bill 6195 was passed. This bill set up a task force to make recommendations in the 2017 legislative session, after collecting data on school salaries and levies. This fine currently exceeds $55 million. Tom Ahearne, the lead attorney in the McCleary v. State of Washington case, spoke on Wednesday, May 3 at the Bellingham High School Performing Arts Center, and explained that the fine isn’t real money. The legislature will never actually pay this amount and it is more a symbol of the weight of the issue and the seriousness of the court’s decision. Ahearne laid out the possibilities we have in store for us in the near future. If the legislature fully funds K-12 public education then we all simply move on. If they fail to “amply” fund education then the courts will need to use a stronger sanction than the moderate contempt fine. The next sanctions could be closing schools or threatening to dock legislators’ salaries.

The court ruling states that the legislature must have fully implemented funding by September 1, 2018. This means the legislature has until the final adjournment of the 2017 legislative session, which ends on June 30, 2017. So, the current legislative session has three weeks to complete a budget that fully funds public K-12 education in the State of Washington. This is something they have been unable to do for nearly five years. Check back on June 30, 2017 for an update.


For more information on this topic, check out:








[1] Article XI Education

Monday, June 5, 2017

New Issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy Now Online


Volume 11 of the Journal of Educational Controversy is now online with a focus on the question:  Is “Best Practices” Research in Education Insufficient or even Misdirected?

This invited issue is dedicated to the life and scholarly work of John G. Richardson.  Dr. Richardson is professor emeritus at Western Washington University and the associate editor of the Journal of Educational Controversy since its beginning in 2006.  He has conceptualized the theme for this issue and has written an introductory essay that places the invited articles within a conceptual framework that raises deeper questions about what it means to make claims to understand something.

 As one of authors wrote about Dr. Richardson’s legacy, “In the 21st century changes are occurring so rapidly that the educational field barely has time to process what has already come down the pike, let alone what is coming. It takes a scholar of courage, with both historical awareness and foresight, to raise important, salient and far-reaching questions about what has come, is on the horizon and might be on the way. This is especially the case in an academic context that appears to be narrowing in its toleration for asking difficult questions and generating meaningful dialogue around them.”

 We hope that this issue will initiate a wide discussion around some pivotal and fundamental questions about the ways we conduct the research that shapes our understanding of schooling in America.

 The controversy addressed in the issue is:

For decades the research agenda for identifying “best practices” for reforming education has been structured around testing hypotheses of either effectiveness or prediction of outcomes.  Within the quantitative approach researchers have used a variety of traditional causal and correlational designs to examine relationships between specific measurable variables. Researchers have also used qualitative approaches to examine implementation of such practices in more depth through observations in the field, interviews with students and educators, and content analysis of curriculum and student work.
However, educational research seeking the best practices can often ignore or minimize the mechanisms that generate the phenomenon studied.  From school-to-prison and mass incarceration, racial-gender disproportionality in special and vocational education, to school dropout rates, correlations abound, but they don't by themselves explain the phenomenon.  Good intentions frame much educational research, but can over-dramatize correlations at the expense of deeper explanation.
This volume seeks papers that exemplify the "paradoxical" nature of educational research.   Submissions should focus on two things: the intentions or motivations that (often) inform educational research, but where the results or outcomes are unintended or unanticipated.  We seek papers that go beyond descriptions of educational issues, however detailed, as well as beyond explanations that repeat initial intentions or motivations.  Papers should reveal and discuss the specific forces and mechanisms that generate the topic of analysis, be it educational practices (teaching, assessment), outcomes (achievement, court decisions, enrollments) or events (protests and emergent social movements, school shootings, drop outs) that are the subject of the paper.