Precious Knowledge

PBS, October 29, 2013

Precious Knowledge portrays the one of the final years of the highly successful but controversial Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School.

The program was a national model of educational success—93 percent of its enrolled students graduating from high school and 85 percent going on to attend college, bucking a statewide trend that saw only 48 percent of Latino students graduating at all. The program taught Mexican and American history, as well as Central and South American literature and culture.

But the political tide shifted in Arizona in the 2000s. The state passed extremely controversial immigration laws, which some civil libertarians equated to racial profiling. Legislative sessions in the state became heated and rife with recriminations. And when lawmakers turned their attention to Tucson High’s ethnic studies program, it became a lightning rod in the public conversation about race. Opponents of the program launched a campaign to convince the public that ethnic studies teach everything from communism to terrorism to “reverse racism.”

Students and their teachers fight hard to preserve their program, marching to the statehouse, holding vigils, and testifying before lawmakers. They invite their legislators to visit their classrooms, and all but one refuse. When he does visit, he criticizes the poster of Che Guevara on the wall, and suggests that a poster of Benjamin Franklin would be more appropriate.


In 2011 Arizona lawmakers passed a bill giving unilateral power to the state superintendent of schools to abolish ethnic studies classes. The fight to restore ethnic studies continues in Arizona and in other states, as education continues to adapt to a changing population.

[Editor’s Note: Clips from this documentary are available at the original article link below. The full version is available for purchase here.]

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  • Spartacus

    “When he does visit, he criticizes the poster of Che Guevara on the wall,
    and suggests that a poster of Benjamin Franklin would be more


    Home-schooling would be even more appropriate .

    • Brian

      I bet their cousins back home running the drug gangs have plenty of pictures of Ben Franklin.

  • sbuffalonative

    From an article I read the other day, it seems that they have quietly and successfully reinstalled some core Hispanic hate books in the classrooms.

    When he does visit, he criticizes the poster of Che Guevara on the wall, and suggests that a poster of Benjamin Franklin would be more appropriate.

    We have two different people with two different histories, traditions, and heroes. This can’t work and will only breed increasing angry and lasting resentment.

    • Jesse James

      Jared nailed this years ago with an excellent essay on why you can’t teach history properly in a multi-cultural environment. One persons hero is anothers villain, there is no middle ground. I think General Winfield Scott and General Zachary Taylor did a fine job of defeating the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. I doubt if the High School history teachers in Hispanic America agree. One of my regiments in the Army still carried a pennant on our colors from the Mexican War and some of the battles were still used as historical lessons learned in Army historical publications and commemorated in Army art. I wonder if these battles are still mentioned or if they are being uncomfortably forgotten about in the new multi-cultural service.

      • MBlanc46

        Even when I was in school many decades ago, the US-Mexican War was only mentioned, not discussed in detail. I’m afraid to think about how it’s taught now. There are some decent books on the subject, but compared to the Civil War, the number is miniscule.

    • joesolargenius

      Your right about the difference in culture preventing respect on a common ground, Benjamin Franklin was a scientist whom improved the quality of life , Che Guevara was a mass murderer who desrtoyed the lives of others.

      • Sick of it

        Franklin was also a successful diplomat. Thanks to his efforts, in addition to their innate hatred of the ‘ancient enemy’, the French recognized America as a sovereign nation and went to war with the British as our allies.

    • So CAL Snowman

      Yeah they should teach Che Guevara’s view on black people. I’m sure that would go over well in those classrooms.

      • David Ashton

        A good idea. A collection of “suprising” anonymous quotes from “left” icons with “guess who said this?” would make useful counter-propaganda in student circles. Ditto, quotes from “far right” hate-figures, including Uno-Who from your now deleted question to me.

  • Lewis33

    I always look to see what is on PBS as Masterpiece has some very good shows done by the anti-white BBC. Has anyone seen the Henry Gates “slave sob song” that has been airing? I can’t put myself through it, but I bet it is hilarious!

    • Le Fox

      There was one on India during Britain’s Imperial era, and in that they blamed White Christians for trying to civilize the wild Indians.

      • Lewis33

        I think I saw that, are you talking about the Queen Victoria one? They couldn’t get through that without tripping over a thousand apologies.

        • Le Fox

          Yup. That one.

          • Lewis33

            The odd thing is, PBS has its best ratings showing YT shows. Downton, Sherlock, Selfridge…the people who watch it (PBS) don’t want to see downtrodden negro’s and the ratings prove it. If it was a privately owned company showing only things that YT wants to see the ratings would skyrocket. It would be funny, but its not.

          • Katherine McChesney

            Apparently, you’ve missed the constant PBS line-up of pro-black culture specials they post on their internet site.

  • Le Fox

    So…they pretty much had a non-school teaching non-studies to low-IQ people. No wonder they had such a high enrollment rate. Like the feminized education system, it focuses on feeling and emotion, not fact and reason.

  • MekongDelta69

    “Teaching Hispanics racial pride boosted high school graduation rates.”

    Funny – when I was a kid, all I needed to graduate from Stuyvesant H.S. was to study. And I assure you, I didn’t take ‘ethnic studies’ (1. Because it didn’t exist -and- 2. Even if it had existed, I wouldn’t have touched it with a stick.)

    • Paleoconn

      Second time today I hear about that high school. Was it a good school? Steve Sailer did a piece about David Coleman, a Common Core guy, who studied there before going to Yale, Oxford, etc.

  • bigone4u

    Remember the interracial “freedom school” in that loathsome “Billy Jack” movie, which took America by storm in about 1971? Remember how blacks, Indians, and Mexicans were dumped on by whites and how Billy Jack kicked white butt, although reluctantly because he was a pacifist? Remember how white college kids made BJ a hero? Wacko stuff.

    Something about Precious Knowledge reminds me of a Billy Jack movie. And underneath it all, it’s just as dumb and ridiculous.

    • Another classic White-guilt/anti-White movie of the 70’s.
      (By the way – who funded Freedumb School?; wasn’t everything “free”?).

      Yes – evil, unathletic White guys oppressing innocent persons of color.
      Violence was never a solution, unless Billy Jack was assaulting evil Caucasians.

    • Sick of it

      Had to look that one up. Utterly ridiculous, especially considering that whites usually treated Indian folk as whites in the same time frame.

  • So CAL Snowman

    This article reads like it was written by a third world drop out with very limited command of the English language.

  • borogirl54

    I have a problem with so called ethnic studies program that talks about wanting to reconquer the Southwest US. Self esteem should be taught at home, not at school.

  • Skip Wellington

    I understand that Graffiti 101 was a prerequisite for Beginning Khakis/Wife-Beater T’s.

  • Sick of it

    “Opponents of the program launched a campaign to convince the public that
    ethnic studies teach everything from communism to terrorism”

    “When he does visit, he criticizes the poster of Che Guevara on the wall”

    So basically, the accusations were true.

  • Hunter Morrow

    Would teaching White pride improve White graduation rates
    or is the triple digit IQ doing the trick?

    This African American tribal crap and La Raza propaganda
    has gone on full well for 50 years in this country, or are we forgetting Chicano
    rhetoric and all that.

    The “People of the Sun” are the People of the Dumb and I’m happy its cold outside.

  • dd121

    There was some propaganda movie done a few years ago that advanced the notion that Mexican indians had invented Calculus or some shat. Maybe somebody remembers the details.

    • Alexandra1973

      The one that comes to mind is “Stand and Deliver.” It’s claimed that the Aztecs invented the concept of zero.

      Oh yeah, and a bunch of Mestizo kids pass an AP calculus exam or something.

  • Pro_Whitey

    Gee, perhaps we can have a white studies curriculum that will support and encourage white kids to achieve more! It ought to help them, too, don’t you think? Hey, why do I hear a mixture of crickets and suppressed giggling?

  • MBlanc46

    This is wonderful. This is just the argument we need to establish European Culture Studies programs in every high school in the US. Well, perhaps not in schools in which students of European ancestry are less than, say, 1%.

  • Katherine McChesney

    ‘Supposedly many woman fell in love with his stink.’

    Sometimes women can be bigger idiots than men.

  • It’s funny that Che was White (can’t attest for his racial purity, but he was at least of predominantly European origins).

    • Franklin_Ryckaert

      Yes, he was partly Basque and partly Irish and he did have prejudices against Indians and Blacks. So not exactly your genuine “Third World” hero.

      • “Prejudice” isn’t the right word. He developed his negative opinion of blacks after his trip to the Congo.

  • MBlanc46

    William C. Davis has written some good stuff on the Alamo siege in his joint biography of Crockett, Bowie, and Travis.