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ERIC Number: EJ1078831
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Reference Count: 13
Education as Instrument or as Empowerment? Untangling White Privilege in the Politics of Ethnic Studies: The Case of the Tucson Unified School District
Dotts, Brian W.
Multicultural Education, v22 n3-4 p35-38 Spr-Sum 2015
Public school curriculum battles offer great examples for illustrating how politics saturates education policy, particularly in the State of Texas. However, Arizona has emerged as another peculiar contender in contemporary battles to control high school curricula. Curriculum battles have deep historical roots in Arizona and elsewhere that go beyond the scope of this article, therefore herein in the author's focus is on Tuscon's recent and controversial ethnic studies program. The Tucson Unified School District's Mexican-American Studies Program in short taught cultural pride, and it has been extremely successful in raising the academic achievement of students in Tucson's segregated schools. Notwithstanding success and despite its serving as a replacement for deeper institutional remedies, the White power structure in Tucson began attacking the program as un-American and, ironically, racist. After realizing success by circumventing the integration of Tucson's public schools, critics then focused on dismantling a culturally relevant indigenous curriculum. The ethnic studies program has been misunderstood, erroneously described, and inappropriately criticized by politicians, policymakers, and the media. More importantly, what often gets lost in the cacophony is the academic success of the program. This article offers the a brief historical context, an overview of the controversy followed by an in-depth personal perspective on the program's impact. The author concludes that the ethic studies program in Tuscon should not only be maintained; its academic success story should be celebrated.
Descriptors: Multicultural Education, School Districts, Whites, Racial Identification, Undergraduate Students, Ethnic Studies, Case Studies, Empowerment, Politics of Education, Hispanic Americans, Hispanic American Culture, Hispanic American Students, Academic Achievement, Culturally Relevant Education, School Segregation, Power Structure, Racial Bias, School Desegregation, Misconceptions, Program Effectiveness, Success
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona