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MINNEAPOLIS, MN, September 28, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Last spring, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2281 banning ethnic studies. Passed in the wake of the draconian anti-immigrant bill SB1070, the education bill specifically targeted the Mexican American Studies Department of the Tucson Unified School District. Ten days later, the Texas State Board of Education passed Social Studies standards that reflect a of right wing fundamentalist Christian agenda.
Today the Texas State Education Board is considering a proposal to remove a "pro-Islamic slant" in Texas textbooks. At the same time the Board faces insufficient funds to publish new texts of any kind (New York Times, September 23, 2010). Meanwhile, in Tucson, enrollment in Ethnic Studies programs has doubled. (Education Week September 22). All across the nation the Arizona ban has inspired people to expand multicultural education. Educators in communities across the nation are engaging in a week of actions in October that celebrate, deepen, broaden, and strengthen ethnic studies and multicultural education from kindergarten to graduate school.
ETHNIC STUDIES WEEK, October 1-7, was initiated by 210 educators from 27 states and dozens of communities, who dedicate themselves to expanding not banning ethnic studies. They teach in community colleges, K-12 schools, community colleges, Ivy League and big 10 universities, private liberal arts colleges and experimental nonprofit community and arts programs. They hail from tiny towns and major cities, California to Connecticut, Idaho to Indiana. Many of these educators have struggled to protect their programs from budget cuts and political attacks. To see who we are: http://ethnicstudiesweekoctober1-7.org/initiators.html.
Ethnic Studies Week has been endorsed by over 50 national and local organizations including the National Association of Ethnic Studies, the National Council of Black Scholars, College Progressives (A National Student Organization) and dozens of university departments, schools, unions and activist organizations. To see the full list go to: http://ethnicstudiesweekoctober1-7.org/organizational-endorsements.html.
Ethnic Studies Week October 1-7 2010. Why now?
Events in Arizona and Texas represent the tip of the iceberg. They must be understood within a political context that includes:
1. A crisis of racial inequality in the nation's public schools that can be measured in graduation rates, college attendance and college graduation. African American boys are those most adversely affected, followed by Latino and Native American boys, and girls of color. (The Schott 50 State Report on Race and Education, (2010) www.blackboysreport.org)
2. Virulent anti immigrant, and anti Islamic sentiment that is finding legal legitimacy, reminiscent of the Indian Removal Act of the 1830s, post slavery vagrancy laws, Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880s, Jim Crow laws, ethnic quotas of the 1920s, and the internment of Japanese Americans during in World War II. It is no wonder that anti- immigrant politicians like Jan Brewer desire to delete these past atrocities from the curriculum.
3. Unprecedented budget cuts in education, that promise to pit one group against another; and in which all programs that do not directly involve test preparation are considered extras.
These three factors represent a "perfect storm" - a crisis for multi-cultural education.
Today educators, students and community activists are uniting to provide a powerful levee against the ensuing storm. We have organized, without funding or corporate sponsorships, and without ready access to mainstream media. We have built a powerful and unprecedented coalition uniting K-12, and college and community, students, teachers, professors, and parents of all races, religions, and cultural backgrounds.
We will not allow our youth to be the victims of this Hurricane INEQUALITY pummeling our education system. What is needed now is a positive affirmation of our diversity in the classroom and our intention to fight ignorance, not immigrants; bigotry not diversity.
Events planned for ethnic studies week reflect local educational and social needs. To view a map with details of events happening in localities across the country click here: http://ethnicstudiesweekoctober1-7.org/events-october-1-7.html
Here are some of the themes addressed in Ethnic Studies week actions:
Making the case for ethnic studies. Through essay contests, academic testimonies and youth debates, communities and colleges in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, California and Minnesota will address the question WHY ETHNIC STUDIES?
Building Cultural Bridges: Many communities are using the week to bridge cultural and class divides in their communities. For example, at Riverside High School in EL Paso Texas where 97% of the students are Latino, speakers from the Islamic Center of El Paso will be addressing students and in Martha's Vineyard adult community education students and K12 charter school students will share knowledge and experiences.
Educating communities about the Arizona Law and Texas laws: In Gainesville, Gary, Laramie and Los Angeles, symposia focus on educating communities and moving them to take action to oppose the Arizona Law and the Texas standards.
Uncovering hidden and censored histories. In Madison, Wisconsin, library students are sponsoring a read-in of banned books. In Long Beach, California, several days will be dedicated to uncovering the history of the U.S. Bracero program. Educators and students in Lincoln Nebraska, St Cloud MN and Moscow Idaho and elsewhere will take the opportunity to DO ethnic studies.
Building local coalitions through large multi-themed community events. In Tucson, Minneapolis, New Haven and San Diego, universities, community colleges, K-12 schools and local organizations are collaborating in community-wide events. They are using the week to build local coalitions of mutual support and political clout.
Using art to educate: Poetry, theater, dance and the plastic arts will be central to many of the events planned in places like Pima Community College in Tucson and Macalester College in St Paul. At San Francisco State University, for example, students from Prof. Valerie Soe's Asian American Community Arts Workshop at San Francisco State University will be hanging banners and planning other art projects in support of Ethnic Studies.
Given the egregious violations of civil rights in Arizona and Texas, we are building a movement to honor and expand the intrinsic role of ethnic studies. To find out more about what is happening locally and nationally, to read more about the issues and find quotes by educators, go to the Ethnic Studies Week website:
For more information contact:
Anne Winkler-Morey, National Coordinator, Ethnic Studies Week
Phone 612- 964-7052
Arturo Aldama, University of Colorado at Boulder, [email protected]
Rose Brewer, University of Minnesota, [email protected]
Sundiata Cha Jua, University of Illinois, Urbana. [email protected]
Gina Chen, Yale University, [email protected]
Francisca James Hernandez, Pima Community College, Tucson, [email protected]
Roberto Rodriguez, University of Arizona [email protected]
Website includes background information, details of events, articles, resources and lists of endorsing groups and initiators: http://ethnicstudiesweekoctober1-7.org/index.html
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