I was shocked to find that in just one week of protesting the Ethnic Studies ban in front of the Department of Education I was treated worse than in the 56 days of protesting at the Arizona State Capitol.
The very employees that have benefited from the education system are the worst offenders. You see, most of the people walking out of the Education building were employees, especially given the fact that our focus was on the main entrance as employees poured out after a days work. We, the protesters, just stood their with our signs. Time and time again we received harsh looks and hurtful comments. We have to assume that a person who works at the “Department of Education” has to have at the very least a bachelors degree, and I assure you that most have a much higher education. Yet, all that education apparently did not teach them the most important thing needed in society, being polite to others.
As these employees exited the building we stood there greeting them and bidding them a good night. They ignored us as if we were invisible and often times we were looked at with disgust. We met disapproving head shakes, rolling of the eyes and snide offensive comments regarding our “unpatriotic” behavior. Rarely would an employee respond and say hello or good evening. The majority of us protesting are over forty years old and many of us look like your neighbor or the friendly shopper you run into at the grocery store as you do your weekly shopping.
Perhaps the signs offended them, or perhaps they are simply dogmatic employees of John Huppenthal or any other dictator that may win the election to become Superintendent of Public Instruction for the crisis stricken state of Arizona. In any event the signs should not offend the employees of the Dept. of Ed. This is the same manner in which the struggle to end segregation started as far back as 1909 when a small group of activists started the NAACP. The struggle for equality was a long one and eventually a successful one for colored people. For the most part! It required major decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court which included decisions such as Brown vs. Board of Education that in turn initiated the desegregation of schools of which I was a part of.
You would think that educated people that work for the Department of Education would understand our struggle to make sure that history is not censored or cleansed by a white majority. It is precisely the aforementioned concept of desegregation that players like Tom Horne (R) currently our Attorney General uses as part of his spin. He claims that these classes segregate the different ethnic groups when in fact the classes are open to all students, but specifically teach those Latino students history that allows them to identify not only with their roots but allows them to better understand the history that placed them specifically where they are at that moment. It is an awakening for Latino students that actually allows them to yearn for more education which in turn allows them to extend their horizons, eventually assimilating themselves fully as proud Americans fully engaged in their civic duties.
Maybe that’s what really bothers Tom Horne the Canadian Immigrant and ex Superintendent of Public Instruction for Arizona, or Steve Montenegro the Salvadoran Immigrant state representative, rising star of the Republican party and sponsor of HB2281, the ethnic studies ban bill, the fact that these students might actually grow up to be productive members of society fully engaged in politics and the American way of life.
While I was protesting at the Department of Education I ran into a man that looked awful familiar. He sat at a bench on the lawn with me and as we chatted we realized that we had both been students in the Mexican American studies program in college thirty one years ago and that he had been President of MECHA. I laughed and said, “you and I are those students that Tom Horne says have been incited to overthrow the U.S. Government by and through the ethnic studies program.” We laughed it up, you see “Bert” as we’ll call him, works at the U.S. Supreme Court across the street from the Dept. of Ed and his brother who was also in MECHA and was an ethnic studies student is a doctor of medicine.
Wherever you fall on the ethnic studies ban issue, you can’t deny that certain factors exist. There’s an attempt to censor information from Americans and an attempt to deny students the ability to continue to learn a subject that over time has been proven to produce great Americans. One thing I would ask critics of the Ethnic Studies Program which forms part of the TUSD curriculum, show me one instance in which in the last thirty seven years of the program’s existence an Ethnic Studies student has grown up to be part of or has initiated a terrorist plot to overthrow the U.S. Government.
I stopped by a Cousins Sub shop the other day. The franchise owner has been there for as long as I can remember. “He said you look very red”, I chuckled and said “Yep, coming from a protest at the Department of Education over the Ethnic Studies ban in Tucson.” I said, “you know that Tom Horne and others say it promotes the overthrow of the U.S. government?” he laughed and responded, “yes, it does”, “overthrow of the U.S. government via the vote”, “that’s what they are afraid of.”
Sometime this month we’ll see a decision from John Huppenthal on the Ethnic Studies program based on the audit handed to him a couple of weeks ago. I suspect all hell will break loose when the decision is rendered by Huppenthal.
Perhaps he should be focused on teaching his employees to act in an educated manner with all Americans as they exit the building wearing their Dept of Ed badges regardless of whether they are supportive of Huppenthal’s policies or the Ethnic Studies program.
In any event, Arizona’s Department of Education has been duly renamed the “The Department of Segregation”
Carlos E. Galindo is a radio talk show host & political analyst conducting radio shows in both English and Spanish on four radio stations in Arizona. Mr. Galindo is a weekly contributor to KPFK 98.7 FM Los Angeles and has appeared on CNN, Univision and Telemundo as a political analyst. Mr. Galindo is also an Op-Ed columnist on Prensa Hispana Arizona. www.nospinonair.com/http://www.carlosgalindo.com
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