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Raza Studies

The Public Option for Educational Revolution

Edited by Julio Cammarota and Augustine Romero; Foreword by David Stovall

Publication Year: 2014

The well-known and controversial Mexican American studies (MAS) program in Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District set out to create an equitable and excellent educational experience for Latino students. Raza Studies: The Public Option for Educational Revolution offers the first comprehensive account of this progressive—indeed revolutionary—program by those who created it, implemented it, and have struggled to protect it.
    Inspired by Paulo Freire’s vision for critical pedagogy and Chicano activists of the 1960s, the designers of the program believed their program would encourage academic achievement and engagement by Mexican American students. With chapters by leading scholars, this volume explains how the program used “critically compassionate intellectualism” to help students become “transformative intellectuals” who successfully worked to improve their level of academic achievement, as well as create social change in their schools and communities.
    Despite its popularity and success inverting the achievement gap, in 2010 Arizona state legislators introduced and passed legislation with the intent of banning MAS or any similar curriculum in public schools. Raza Studies is a passionate defense of the program in the face of heated local and national attention. It recounts how one program dared to venture to a world of possibility, hope, and struggle, and offers compelling evidence of success for social justice education programs.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword: Committing to Struggle in Troubling Times

David Stovall

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pp. ix-xii

If you were unfamiliar with schools in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), the aforementioned epigraph would appear supportive and affirming. Nevertheless, despite the clear language of the in dependent audit performed by National Academic Learning Partners, which was commissioned by the Arizona Department of Education, the findings of the report have been dismissed by the department. Instead, members of the Arizona...

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Preface: Revolutionary Education in Tucson

Augustine Romero

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pp. xiii-2

It was late April 2002, and I was getting ready to have my students go through an exercise wherein they evaluate the historical and modern-day impact of the Fourteenth Amendment, rewriting it in a way that creates greater equity for historically oppressed ethnic and social groups. As the students were rushing in, I saw the principal, Dr. Tom Scarborough, in...

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Introduction: Paulo Freire in Raza Studies

Julio Cammarota and Augustine Romero

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pp. 3-13

In 2009, the Arizona State Senate held hearings on whether to pass a law, SB 1108, that would ban ethnic studies from public schools. Although SB 1108 was slated to wipe out ethnic studies across the state, the real target was Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American studies (MAS) department. The hearings included the questioning of some of the program’s creators, namely, former MAS director Dr. Augustine Romero. State...

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1. Critically Compassionate Intellectualism: The Pedagogy of Barriorganic Intellectualism

Augustine Romero

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pp. 14-39

The following is a dialogue that took place with one of our Chicana students. I believe that it establishes the context in which our educational lucha (struggle) is occurring. In this dialogue, a student, Tina, is responding to a question about her educational experiences. Her forthright response portrays the racially hostile environment that she experienced in school and the deep and painful impact it had upon her: ...

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2. Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: The Impact of Mexican American Studies Classes

Nolan L. Cabrera

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pp. 40-51

Mark Twain famously wrote, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” While Twain’s pithy comment contains a great deal of truth, it should not be construed to mean all statistical analyses are created equal or are equally valid. An example of this involves the heated debates over Mexican American studies (MAS) in the Tucson Unifi ed School District (TUSD). One of...

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3. The Battle for Educational Sovereignty and the Right to Save the Lives of Our Children

Augustine Romero

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pp. 52-62

Question: what would you expect a state to do with a successful academic program that has (a) inverted the achievement gap between Mexican American students and their peers (regardless of ethnicity); (b) inverted the graduation rate between Mexican American students and their Anglo peers; (c) raised the college matriculation rates for Mexican American students to a level significantly higher than the national average; ...

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4. Self-Inflicted Reductio ad Absurdum: Pedagogies and Policies of the Absurd in the State of Arizona

Mary Carol Combs

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pp. 63-90

In recent years the state of Arizona has provided the rest of the country with considerable levity. It is, after all, the state whose governor claimed that severed heads routinely turn up in the desert (“Brewer Shows She Has the Chops” 2010), whose publicity-loving sheriff of Maricopa Country dresses immigrant inmates in pink underwear and striped pajamas (Boehnke...

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5. “When You Know Yourself You’re More Confident”: Resilience and Stress of Undergraduate Students in the Face of Anti–Ethnic Studies Bills

Andrea J. Romero and Anna Ochoa O’Leary

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pp. 91-106

I woke my five- year- old son up at 5:30 a.m. in the dark; he was already dressed and we ate tortillas in the car. By the time we arrived at the school district building, the sun was starting to come up and the people were gathering— there were children, parents, teenagers, college students I recognized from my classes, and elders. Everyone was moving slowly and many were sitting on the ground waiting. My son and I had done several...

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6. The Social Justice Education Project: Youth Participatory Action Research in Schools

Julio Cammarota

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pp. 107-121

Youth participatory action research (YPAR) offers great potential as a methodology for investigating and improving educational practices (Cahill 2007; Cammarota and Fine 2008; Fine et al. 2005; Kirshner 2007; McIntyre 2000; Morrell 2006; Torre 2009; Tuck 2009). Research in which young people are both the researchers and the focus of the study can provide critical insider perspectives into how schools produce success or failure...

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7. Encuentros with Families and Students: Cultivating Funds of Knowledge through Dialogue

Julio Cammarota and Augustine Romero

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pp. 122-134

On a balmy night in Tucson, we waited anxiously for parents and family to attend our first- ever Encuentro. As University of Arizona researchers, we worked with a public high school teacher to develop a youth participatory action research (YPAR) program (Cammarota and Fine 2008) called the Social Justice Education Project (SJEP) (Cammarota 2007; Cammarota and Romero 2006) and believed that creating a forum for students to...

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8. Researching the Institute for Transformative Education: Critical Multicultural Education in an Embattled State

Lara Dos Passos Coggin

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pp. 135-158

I initially took part in the Institute for Transformative Education (hosted every summer by Tucson Unified School District’s [TUSD’s] Raza Studies Department) in July 2008, as a student of critical multicultural education and as an educator (I had just finished teaching two Upward Bound high school summer courses at a local community college).3 The week of the 2008 institute was an intense period of self- reflection, and portraits of unsuccessful...

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9. Deconstructing the Doublethink Aimed at Dismantling Ethnic Studies in Tucson

Jeff Duncan-Andrade

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pp. 159-170

Anyone that spends time in schools serving the children of working-class and poor people knows how rare it is to find classrooms where students are genuinely engaged in what they are learning. Year after year, school districts all over the country rack their brains and spend billions of tax payers’ dollars trying to figure out how to improve these classroom experiences. At the end of the day, that is what most parents want for their children...

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10. Expanding on Freire: Enriching Critical Pedagogy with Indigenous Theory toward a Pedagogy of Humanization

Chiara Cannella

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pp. 171-192

Political controversy has surrounded Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD’s) Mexican American Studies (MAS) program for years. But when the school board voted in 2012 to halt all MAS classes, controversy turned to turmoil, and educators and scholars across the country became outraged that such an effective program was targeted for ideological reasons. Accompanying this outrage was increasing interest in the day- to-day...


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pp. 193-196


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pp. 197-202

E-ISBN-13: 9780816598830
E-ISBN-10: 0816598835
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530793
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530793

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 5 photos, 4 illustrations, 9 tables
Publication Year: 2014