Posted on May 25, 2010

Arizona Ethnic Studies Exposed

Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy in Academia, May 24, 2010

One of Bill Ayers’ courses at the University of Illinois includes Pedagogy of the Oppressed as required reading. Author Paulo Freire, a Brazilian Marxist, declared:

“This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.”

It turns out that the Freire book is required reading in “Raza Studies” or Mexican-American courses in the high schools in Tucson, Arizona, where students have been protesting Arizona’s new immigration law. Other required books are Occupied America by Rodolfo Acuña, a professor emeritus of Chicano studies at California State University in Northridge (CSUN), and Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist.

Occupied America, the fifth edition, {snip} refers to white people as “gringos” and actually includes a quotation on page 323 from Jose Angel Gutierrez of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO), who was angry over the cancellation of a government program. He declared:

“We are fed up. We are going to move to do away with the injustice to the Chicano and if the ‘gringo’ doesn’t get out of our way, we will stampede over him.”


The Arizona citizens upset about this kind of material said that they initiated an investigation into the problem back in 2007 and found it difficult to get access to the books. One activist said the concern began when parents came to be aware of violence in the schools directed against white and black children. “This investigation was undertaken to find the roots of this hate,” she told me. Another person, in turn, “told me the books in their Mexican-American classes are kept under ‘lock and key’ and the kids can’t even take them home. She said she asked to see them but they were very secretive about them and she was prohibited.”

{snip} Eventually, a list of books was produced, and a controversy ensued.

The footnotes for Pedagogy of the Oppressed tell us a lot about the nature of the book. Sources include Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Mao, Herbert Marcuse, and Vladimir Lenin.

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), which Bill Ayers serves as a vice-president, includes a “Paulo Freire Special Interest Group” in his honor. {snip}

More open than even Bill Ayers about the mission, Paula Allman wrote Critical Education Against Global Capitalism, incorporating the ideas of Marx, Freire and Antonio Gramsci, the Italian communist who emphasized the subversion of Western cultural institutions such as the educational system. Allman is in the School of Continuing Education at the University of Nottingham, England. The foreword to her book is by UCLA Professor Peter McLaren, one of those on Bill Ayers’ own “blog roll” of favorite websites, and an open advocate of “Revolution as education,” the subtitle of one of his books. Allman, he wrote, was “part of a bold new group of Marxist educationalists in Britain . . .”


The “Oppressed” in America

In the hands of a skillful “educator,” and in the context of the reading of Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Occupied America, the apparent aim is to convince the Mexican-American youth that they are the victims of the “oppressors”–white society. Occupied America opens with a map of “The Mexican Republic, 1821,” showing Mexico in control of the Southwest United States. The subtitle of Occupied America, “A History of Chicanos,” sets the tone. Freire promises them “liberation” from the gringos.


In a lengthy analysis, Stern [Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute] notes that Pedagogy of the Oppressed “has achieved near-iconic status in America’s teacher-training programs” and that one study found that it was “one of the most frequently assigned texts” in the curricula of 16 schools of education–14 of them among the top-ranked institutions in the country. “These course assignments are undoubtedly part of the reason that, according to the publisher, almost 1 million copies have sold, a remarkable number for a book in the education field,” he noted.