Curricular Materials - Whose history? Bringing the Ethnic Studies debate in Tucson, AZ into your high school
Why can’t they (Mexican American students in Tucson, AZ) learn about their history when we (Afro-Caribbean, Latino Caribbean and Afro American students) have to learn their (White, European) history all the time?
Students in my Global History course in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY have raised this question every time I teach this unit. It also raises questions about what gets taught and why, who makes curricular decisions and the effect these decisions have on students’ high school graduation and college matriculation rates. Some students stand steadfast in their belief that a students’ interest in school has nothing to do with what is taught. Others argue strongly for the right to learn a ‘different kind’ of history and convey anger and annoyance for what has been taught to them previously. And still others fall somewhere along the spectrum, aware of the importance of and anxious about exams that other people create for their immediate and long term future; but also yearning for school to reflect ‘their’ history - whatever that might mean to them.
This unit is built around the film Precious Knowledge, a striking personal and political portrayal of the debate over the ethnic studies program in Tucson, AZ; sometimes called Hispanic Studies, or Mexican American Studies (MAS). As of Fall 2012, the MAS program has been dismantled, books have been banned, and teachers reassigned or let go, all due to the passage of Senate Bill 2281, Attorney General Tom Horne’s declaration that the ethnic studies program illegal, and the Tucson Unified School District’s vote to “cease all Mexican American (but not other) ethnic studies classes for fear of losing state aid.”
Through the course of this unit, students will think critically and write about curriculum they have experienced, learn about the curriculum offered in Tucson, AZ, and learn the skills of counterargument before debating and writing an opinion piece on the subject. Students will consider the following guiding questions:
Ariela Rothstein created this curriculum as part of the CLACS 2012 Teacher Residency Program.
Ariela Rothstein is a high school history teacher at East Brooklyn Community High School in Brownsville, Brooklyn. As a transfer school, EBC serves 16-21 year old students who are under-credited for their age and working towards a high school Regents diploma. She teaches Middle East Studies and Latin American and Caribbean Studies courses as part of the global history curriculum for the school. The courses focus on critical thinking and writing skills, on themes and topics that are culturally relevant, engaging and focused on students becoming active readers, writers and citizens in our world today. Her curriculum is inspired by the work of the Coalition of Essential Schools, Teaching for Change, the Right Question Institute and the New York Collective of Radical Educators. Outside of the classroom, she's proud to be doing her second year with the CLACS' Teacher Residency program and a Movement of Rank and File Educators' caucus delegate to the UFT.
Background Essay - Educators (PDF)
Background Essay - Students (PDF)
Objectives/Unit Outline (PDF)
Key Concepts (PDF)
Lesson 1 (PDF)
Lesson 2 (PDF)
Lesson 3 (PDF)
Lesson 4 (PDF)
Student Handout 1 (PDF)
Student Handout 2 (PDF)
Student Handout 3 (PDF)
Student Handout 4 (PDF)
Resource 1 (PDF)
Resource 2 (PDF)
Resource 2a (PDF)
Resource 3 (PDF)
Student Resources (PDF) (also located below)
“Secure Communities" - National Immigration Forum
"Network of Teacher Activist Groups" - No History Is Illegal
"Rethinking Columbus: Towards a True People's History" - Common Dreams
"New Visions Item Analysis of Global Regents Exam" - KnowledgeBase
UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies program
Tucson Mexican American Studies program
Borough of Manhattan Community College Ethnic Studies program
Middle School Public Debate Program: Refutation