HOUSTON, TX - August 23, 2017 - HOUSTON, TX - August 23, 2017 - Arizona's ban of Mexican American Studies has been overturned!
Judge A. Wallace Tashima called the statue racist. The ruling stated,” The Court concludes that plaintiffs have proven their First Amendment claim because both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus.”
Activists, educators, community members, students across the nation have been celebrating. The court's findings prove the claims community members had made all along that the law was discriminatory and the Mexican American Courses helped students succeed.
Tony Diaz, leader of the Librotraficante Movement, said, "This is a major victory. Just a generation or two ago, this racist law would have decimated our community. Other states would not have heard about it until it had spread into their schools, and by then it would be too late. Instead, through social media, the students of Tucson told the world what was happening as the state rounded up textbooks from classrooms as they enforced the ban of Mexican American Studies. "
Sean Arce, one of the original Mexican American Studies (MAS) teachers and curriculum designers said,"This is all of ours victory. Would not have been possible without you all."
Curtis Acosta, also one of the original MAS teachers, said, "Today is a wonderful day for justice in our country. For over a decade, the state of Arizona practiced active discrimination and racist intent against Mexican American Studies and Mexican American students. I am so proud of our former students, my colleagues and our program. However, I can't help but feel bittersweet for all the students who never had the opportunity to blossom and find their academic identity in our classes. The loss is immeasurable and tragic. I hope these actions will never be repeated by any federal, state, or local government against its children and teachers. Yet, today is a good day for all of those who never lost faith in our struggle for justice, and a great day for Arizona and America. We are thankful for this bright light. Let us hope it can heal some of the ancient and recent wounds of racism and discrimination in our country."
Dr. Anita Fernandez, director of the Xito Institute, and a supporter of the original MAS instructors said, "This is a victory for all of us today, not just for Arizona but for every single community in this country and for our children to have a humanizing education that includes their history and their culture."
Dr. Nolan Cabrera, whose research on the positive results of Mexican American Studies helped win the case said, "This is a great day for advocates of educational equity everywhere. We've long been arguing that the ban on Mexican America Studies was state-sponsored racism and this ruling affirmed that stance."
Tony Diaz, added, "This demonstrates the power of this generation of Chicana and Chicano scholars, activists, writers, students, and community members. We have the talent to write the books that were in the curriculum, we have the brilliant educators who devised the curriculum, we have the gifted scholars who researched the results of the curriculum, we have the civil rights lawyers who fought the case, the powerful students who stood up for their education, the powerful community that suffered the brunt of this cultural crises, the Tucson familia who inspired us Tejanos, and others from every state to defy great odds for the greater good. We are honored to be part of their familia."
The ruling further stated, that the former Arizona Education Chief was driven by discrimination: "Huppenthal’s comments describing his “eternal” “war” against the MAS program, Ex. 104, expose his lack of interest in the welfare of TUSD students, who would be the focus of legitimate pedagogical concern if one existed. Those comments reveal instead a fixation on winning a political battle against a school district."
The court also confirmed that the discriminatory law was pushed for political gain: "Having thus ruled out any pedagogical motivation, the Court is convinced that decisions regarding the MAS program were motivated by a desire to advance a political agenda by capitalizing on race- based fears."
Tony Diaz added, "All of our lives have changed because of the struggle for Mexican American Studies in Tucson. California now has major school districts where Ethnic Studies is required to graduate. Kansas is taking steps to implement Ethnic Studies. Here in Texas, Mexican American studies has been spreading, and I have just written a textbook titled "The Mexican American Studies Toolkit" which the Texas Education Agency just confirmed meets the state requirements. It is poised to become the first Mexican American Studies textbook centralized for adoption in the state. I can safely say that none of that would have happened had we not been inspired by the Tucson community."
Remedies have yet to be determined in the case. Also, Tucson Unified School District has not said when it will re-implement the once outlawed curriculum in full force which a court confirmed increased student achievement.