The High Price of Teaching Latino Students About Their Heritage (event)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

4:00pm-6:30pm                                                                                                                                                                      Classroom Building, Room 102   
Guest speaker: Curtis Acosta, Tucson AZ high school teacher. “The High Price of Teaching Latino Students about their Heritage: Curricular Success and Political Fallout with the Banning of Mexican-American Studies in Arizona”.  Presentation and discussion with Mr. Acosta

7:00pm                                                                                                                                                                                        Classroom Building, Room 102   

Film: Precious Knowledge, followed by talk-back session with Curtis Acosta and UConn’s Students Without Borders

See www.preciousknowledgefilm.com for more information

Sponsored by:

Students Without Borders, El Instituto, PRLACC, Lambda Alpha Upsilon

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5 Responses to The High Price of Teaching Latino Students About Their Heritage (event)

  1. I along with Alexis, got to witness this event hosted by our very own Ernie. It was truly inspiring.

    • Ernie Abreu says:

      Thank you Lisette, I was also inspired by this delicate topic, and I wish to see a movement proceed in order to make a change.

  2. Ernie Abreu says:

    As for the presentation:
    The presentation by Curtis Acosta was one that brought me a lot of anger and disappointment but at the same time, inspired by his speech. Listening to the inequalities that the Chican@ population is facing in Arizona, I have no doubt in my mind that racism is still prominent in today’s society. But before I rant about these inequalities, I would like to touch upon some very interesting points that Curtis Acosta mentioned, and then I will lead into my rants.
    During Acosta speech, I found a genuine message that this teacher was giving to his student. This message consisted of the basis of knowledge, Mother Earth. Mother Earth, or in other words, society and our environment, is full of knowledge waiting for us to absorb it. And teachers aren’t those who give us that knowledge. Teachers are practitioners of what Acosta calls Critical Pedagogy, which helps students become critical consumers of all information that they encounter in their daily lives. This skill enhances their ability to think critically about information in order to become more capable producers of counter information. I believe this is the job as a teacher. Knowledge is not boring. Knowledge is not a hassle. When the desire to study meets pleasure that is when we arrive with knowledge. Knowledge is beautiful and priceless and nobody has the right to take away those sources of knowledge.
    The dissolution of the Mexican American Studies/ Raza Studies, abbreviated as MAS, is an example of taking away sources of knowledge. The Board of Education executives are responsible for this loss of knowledge, the knowledge that made lots of Chican@s and Latin@s successful in high school. In fact, 97.5% of students that took MAS courses graduated compared to a national average of 44% of students that do not take the course. My question is, how can you take away a program that enhances knowledge and increasing the number of Latin@s that graduate from high school? The culprits’ answer to my question would be; the elimination of MAS is because it taught students about history in a negative point of view. Americans were portrayed as villains that harmed and segregated the Latin@ community. However, isn’t this true? The information that was taught in MAS courses were not bias information that educate young Latin@s to rebel and feel animosity towards Anglos for there treatment. These courses educated students about their culture, their ethnicity and their history that otherwise they would have never learned from regular American History.
    The bottom line is that the Board of Education executives made a horrible mistake in taking away the MAS curriculum. Looking back at history, African Americans have gone through similar circumstances in the past. I would have thought that because of that struggle, we, as a society, would be equipped and prepared to fight against these injustices. However, we have not learned anything from our ancestors. Oppression and racism will always follow us like shadow. Like Curtis Acosta said, we need to have self-reflection. We need to reflect upon the choices and actions that we make. Picture it as a foggy mirror. When we look at a foggy mirror, we cannot see ourselves. We need to clear up the mirror in order to find ourselves and the important officials that make life-changing decisions are looking at fog. Because if they did look at what is under the fog, the image would not be pleasant.

  3. briannamartone12 says:

    I had no knowledge about this topic before I saw the trailer on this Blog. Even though I am glad that I am now informed about this event, I find it odd that many people don’t know about what went on in Arizona. This is a huge problem within itself that this issue was not broadcasted to a wider audience. After viewing the documentary, “Precious Knowledge”, I felt really helpless in a sense. I think I always thought that there could be change done to a situation in order to create equality and in this instance we saw a man with such dedication try to do something good for his community and he was shut down.

    The Mexican American/Raza Studies were voted to no longer be available within the school system. The claims that these Studies were Anti-American and really infuriated me because even though people may be a minority, does not take away their identity of being American. I feel as though issues regarding race and cultures are not understood and they should have a space to be taught in the school system. I find it problematic that studies about History leaves out many races except the white race which is clearly present. There is more to our History than just White History. I find that studies about other cultures are mainly present in inner-city schools and are rarely if not ever offered in private or suburban education systems. This is a huge problem because everyone (not just minorities) should be learning about different cultures other than their own. I think that in order for minorities to feel that they belong here, they must (Just like Whites) be educated about their roots.

    It is so important that everyone no matter their identity learns about their past.Our past literally makes us who we are and lets us become more informed about why we are the way we are. It bothers me to know that the Mexican American/Raza Studies no longer are taught to the kids in Arizona. But what bothers me the most is that this clearly was making improvement in these kids lives and they were doing better in school and becoming more involved with their communities yet it still got voted against. Something that was doing so good for them, was taken away. All I could think was that these men, White Men, in power lack the understanding of what it feels like to not feel you belong or have a place in America because your identity is never represented anywhere. We are a country that is made up of all these identities therefore we should all be represented within academia.

    • Ernie Abreu says:

      Like you said, isn’t it bizarre that a program that was increasing the percentage of students graduating high school is being shut down because of selfish American patriotism reasons? In my opinion, this justification of the studies being anti-American is not a good practice of patriotism. The most infuriating part of the documentary was when one of the ‘White Men’ said, “go to your country to learn your own history for this America.” However, studies of the Holocaust are still being taught to children in middle schools and high schools. Isn’t this also anti-American?

      By the way, if you have not gotten the opportunity to watch the documentary “Precious Knowledge” please take some time out of your busy schedules to do so. It is a very inspiring and sad story that will help to further spread the information and rise awareness about this incident. You can find it in the library and rent it for 3 hours.

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