While once again demonizing a Mexican-American studies program in Tucson, Arizona, Glenn Beck falsely claimed that the program is "mandatory." Enrollment in the class has always been voluntary.
Beck Falsely Claims Ethnic Studies Is "Mandatory" In Tucson
Beck: Tucson Ethnic Studies Program Is Currently "Mandatory." From the May 5 edition of Glenn Beck:
If you remember, I told you the story last week after a Tucson school board meeting got a little out of hand before it ever got underway. School officials had the nerve to suggest that teaching children to try to reclaim American land from Mexico is a kind of a questionable concept. Not of course questionable enough to cancel the class. No, no, no. Just questionable enough to make sure the class is an elective rather than mandatory. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 5/5/11, emphasis added]
Fact: Enrollment In The Ethnic Studies Program Is Voluntary
Christian Science Monitor: "Students Don't Have To Take" Ethnic Studies Courses. The Christian Science Monitor reported:
In the meantime, the Tucson district has proposed changing the program. Currently, Mexican-American courses can help satisfy the social-studies requirement for graduation (although students don't have to take the courses to fulfill the requirement). Under the proposal, the Mexican-American classes would not count toward the social-studies requirement and would instead be electives. Six-and-a-half elective credits are needed for graduation. [The Christian Science Monitor, 5/4/11]
Students: Classes Are "Voluntary," Not "Forced On Us." The Arizona Daily Star reported:
During the press conference, Horne said students in the class had been indoctrinated, something students said was offensive. They said the critical thinking encouraged in class gave a name to the racism and sexism they say they already experience daily. The classes are voluntary and open to all students, they said.
"They weren't forced on us," said Jose Estrella, 18, a graduate of Rincon High School who made the "Tom Horne needs a hug" sign. "We wanted them." [The Arizona Daily Star, 6/13/08, via Nexis]
Education Week: Students "Sig[n] Up" For Mexican-American Studies Class. Education Week reported:
In the midst of an attempt by Arizona's legislature and top education official to shut down ethnic-studies courses in the Tucson Unified School District, students here at Tucson High Magnet School are flocking to the courses this school year.
At least one class in two of the courses taught from a Mexican-American perspective at this school have more than 45 students, although the union contract calls for no more than 35 students in a class. School district officials say enrollment in Mexican-American studies in Tucson Unified's 14 high schools has nearly doubled since last school year, from 781 to 1,400 students.
"Ethnic studies allow me to read and view and analyze different forms of literature and learning from another perspective," said Krysta Diaz, 17, one of 386 students taking an ethnic-studies course at the school this year. The courses attract primarily students like Ms. Diaz, who are of Mexican-American heritage, but also draw in the occasional African-American, Anglo, or immigrant from a country other than Mexico.
Some students say the controversy over ethnic studies caused them to want to check out the courses for themselves. But others say they signed up to learn more about social justice generally or Mexican-American culture and history specifically.
In a recent discussion in Mr. Acosta's class, Mr. Figueroa said a more diverse group of students should be recruited to ethnic studies. He took a step toward that goal himself by persuading his best friend, Nasrat Malekzai, 18, to enroll in Latino literature. Mr. Malekzai is an immigrant from Russia and a member of Afghanistan's Pashtun minority.
For his part, Mr. Malekzai said, he chose to enroll in Latino literature rather than regular senior English because he wanted to learn more about Mexican-American culture. After all, he said, he's "surrounded" by Mexican-Americans at school. "The class has opened my eyes," he said. [Education Week, 9/22/10, via Nexis]
Beck Previously Claimed Tucson Class "Separated People" By Race
Beck: "This Is A Class That Separated People. ... If You Were Mexican, You'd Go Into That Class." From Glenn Beck's radio show:
BECK: These students are angry, and they are pounding on the -- they've taking over the council chambers. And they're sitting where the council sits. And they are protesting that the class is being reconsidered. It's Mexican studies or whatever, and they want to restore it. This is a class that separated people, so you would be -- if you were Mexican, you'd go into that class. If you weren't, you would stay in the other. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 4/28/11]
But Classes Are Open To All Students
NY Times: Classes Are "Open To Any Student" At Tucson School. The New York Times reported:
Although open to any student at Tucson High Magnet School, nearly all of those attending Curtis Acosta's Latino literature class on a recent morning were Mexican-American.
For all of that and more, Mr. Acosta's class and others in the Tucson Unified School District's Mexican-American program have been declared illegal by the State of Arizona -- even while similar programs for black, Asian and American Indian students have been left untouched. [The New York Times, 1/7/11]
Even A Critic Acknowledged That "The Mexican American Studies Program Is Not Populated Exclusively By Students Of Hispanic Background." Tom Horne, then the Arizona superintendent of public instruction, who has said that the program is illegal, wrote:
The Mexican American Studies program is not populated exclusively by students of Hispanic background. Other students attend the course. However, the percentage of students in the course that are of Hispanic background greatly exceeds their overall percentage in the relevant schools. [Finding by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction of Violation by Tucson Unified School District Pursuant to A.R.S. 15-112(B), 12/30/10]
And Education Experts Oppose Efforts To Shut Down Ethnic Studies Programs
La Prensa: Education Experts Oppose Legislative Efforts To Shut Down Tucson Program. La Prensa San Diego reported that educators "across the state" opposed the law targeting the Tucson ethnic studies program and that backers of the program say that students participating in the program "have a 100 percent graduation rate and go on to college." La Prensa also reported, "The Anti-Defamation League of Arizona threw its weight in support of the Tucson program in a statement issued last week." [La Prensa San Diego, 5/28/10, via Nexis]
NY Times: Officials "Say Those Enrolled In The Program Do Better On State Tests." The New York Times reported that Tucson officials "say those enrolled in the program do better on state tests than those of the same ethnicity who are not enrolled." [The New York Times, 1/7/11]