Che Studies

The Arizona Republic’s Doug MacEachern has a column today on the Raza Studies program in Tucson, Arizona.  Raza Studies is part of their Ethnic Studies program in Tucson public high schools emphasizing Latino history and pride.  But the particular way in which Tucson’s program does this has raised some critical scrutiny.  MacEachern writes:

The ethnic-studies directors make a great many claims that teeter over into the wrong side of truth.  They claim not to “teach” communism, socialism or Marxism in their classes. But they lionize Marxist revolutionaries like “Che” Guevara; they all but worship Marxist education theorist Paolo Friere; and they have developed entire lesson plans celebrating modern Marxists like Subcomandante Marcos, the southern Mexican Zapatista who considers himself a “postmodern Che.” But they don’t “teach” the stuff.

The directors of the program “humbly and respectfully welcome the scrutiny and spotlight” their program has attracted, but then denounce “the tyrannical and fascist perspectives that are held and espoused by our adversaries.”

To defend their program, the directors have produced what one local paper called nine “cohort studies,” which the school district claims show that Raza Studies has a positive effect on the high school graduation rate and state achievement test scores of the students who elect to participate in the program.  MacEachern sent the “studies” to me for my comment.  They were actually just a few bar graphs making simple comparisons between the outcomes of students who did and did not choose to participate in Raza Studies at some (but not all) of Tuscon’s high schools.  There is no way to know from a few bar graphs whether Raza Studies helped, hurt, or had no effect on student achievement since the self-selected group of students who chose to take Raza Studies may have already been higher achieving at the beginning.  A few bar graphs does not an evaluation — or nine cohort studies —  make.

3 Responses to Che Studies

  1. matthewladner says:

    One thing is for certain: spending resources on this program fundamentally undermines the often made claim that the Tucson district is “underfunded.” Forty-four percent of Arizona fourth graders score below basic on the reading NAEP, and the Tucson district has chosen to invest significant resources in ethnic studies.

  2. I wonder if the lionizng of Che includes this account from the Wall Street Journal ( ):

    “Guevara . . . quickly gain[ed] a reputation for ruthlessness; a child in his guerrilla unit who had stolen a little food was immediately shot without trial,” writes Pascal Fontaine in “The Black Book.” Guevara also wrote in his diary about executing peasant Eutimio Guerra, a suspected informant, with a single .32-caliber shot to the head. Guevara, in his will, praised the “extremely useful hatred that turns men into effective, violent, merciless, and cold killing machines.” He tried to spread the havoc caused by the Cuban revolution in other countries from Africa to South America, rallying for “two, three, many Vietnams!”

    Guevara oversaw executions at La Cabana prison; some of those executed were his former comrades who wouldn’t relinquish their democratic beliefs. “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary,” he said. He didn’t assuage his barbarity by being a brilliant statesman, either, helping drive the economy to ruin as head of Cuba’s central bank and minister of industries. “Though claiming to despise money,” writes Fontaine, “he lived in one of the rich, private areas of Havana.” Guevara told a British reporter after the Cuban Missile Crisis that the nukes would have been fired if they were under Cuban control–which would have wasted all of those future American suburban revolutionary wannabes.

  3. Greg Forster says:

    Yeah, I’m sure that’s all in there, Jay – right alongside their coverage of all the non-Communist Latinos of world-historical importance: El Cid, Charles V, Ignatius Loyola, Francisco Suarez, Juan Carlos…

    Latinos have given a lot to the world, especially to America. (If you’re reading this in English, thank Charles V.) Too bad the people who claim to represent them are so obsessed with totalitarians and mass murderers.

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