Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 24, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Anti American teaching ban


  • A bill has been introduced by State Representative Russell Pearce that would prohibit teaching of course matter in public schools that was anti-American or against Western values. Pearce will talk about his bill with State Representative David Lujan speaking against it.
Guests:
  • Russell Pearce - State representative
  • David Lujan - State senator
Category: Education

View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to Horizon, I'm Ted Simons. A bill in reaction to ethnic studies in Tucson has been -- introduced at the legislature. Senate bill 11-08 states that the primary purpose of public education is the teaching of the values of American citizenship. It would ban the use of tax dollars for course work that would denigrate American values and the teaching of western civilization. It would ban the use of tax dollars to promote political, religious, ideological or cultural values as truth if those values conflicted with American or western civilization values. It would require public schools to provide copies of their materials to the superintendent of public instruction upon request. If a public school teaches prohibited courses, tax funds could be withheld. Diverse courses in politics, religion or ideology would be allowed if they do not denigrate or encourage dissent from American values or western civilization. Finally, the bill would ban organizations from college campuses if that group is based in part or in whole on race. We'll hear from lawmakers on both sides of the issue. But first, here's some testimony on the bill from the recent senate appropriations committee hearing.

>>Pete Rios:
I think you, yourself, made reference to the key word; we are a country of diversity. You said that yourself. So, if we are a diverse nation, different backgrounds, cultures, languages, different ethnicities, what is the down side of students learning about their culture along the American culture and values and --

>>Anna Gaines:
There is absolutely nothing wrong if you can teach all of the different races and ethnic backgrounds the same, their culture. If you are only going to teach to a certain group, then it is wrong. It is not right.

>>Pete Rios:
Mr. Chairman --

>>Chairman:
Yes.

>>Pete Rios:
Isn't that the group that needs help in developing a better and more positive self-image of themselves? In the Hispanic community, we have a dropout rate that is higher than 15\%. Don't we need something to try to get those kids to stay in school? Do something, graduate, make something positive of themselves. And if ethnic studies is the way to keep them, at the end of the day, isn't that good for the state of Arizona, good for the citizens, and good for society.

>>Anna Gaines:
The ethnic study should not permit the idea that we need to kill white people. That is what the ethnic studies that they are studying right now has in it. Protesting, saying that the white people need to die so that the Hispanics can live.

>>John Kavanagh:
I think the main argument here concerns the way to best integrate new cultures into American society. And I think this bill will put us back on the right path. I think during the 20th century, particularly the early 20th century, this country had the right model and it was called the melting pot, where people from different countries came here, be it the Jewish kid from the ghetto, the Irish kid from the potato -- they came to the same school and they learned what this bill suggests. They learned American values. They didn't learn they were separate and they had to accommodate each other. They learned they were now Americans; they were beginning their journey to become Americans, put their old national allegiance behind them, not to forget it. Always remember where you came from. I used to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade with my police unit.

>>Ted Simons:
Here now to talk in support of this bill is state representative Russell Pearce. Speaking against the bill is state senator David Lujan. Thank you both for joining us on "horizon."

>> Thank you for having us.

>>Ted Simons:
Russell, why is this bill necessary?

>>Russell Pearce:
You know, this bill, this is amazing, the portrayal that has been given, there's been three articles in the Arizona Republic talking about how bad the course is. Apparently one of the articles is revolution. This bill teaches hate, this class teaches hate. Hate teaches separatism, in their own material, in order for the Latino to survive, the gringos must leave -- that is in the teaching material. The Arizona Republic has written three articles on how bad this course is. Tom Horne went down to investigate how bad this was. They refused to give him the curriculum. They attacked him for even asking about the curriculum. It is amazing to me that we think this is cultural about Hispanic culture. Nothing to do with that. In the race everything, outside of the race nothing. That is their motto. Those are the groups behind the marches in LA, Phoenix, held up Mexican flags, marched, demanded that we ignore laws, not amnesty, ignore the laws and they have right to come here under all circumstances.

>>Ted Simons:
The ethnics course in Tucson is the lightning rod here. We have heard volatile verbiage of what is being taught down there. Is that being taught down there?

>>David Lujan:
No, it is not. The Arizona Daily Star, they looked at the teaching materials, a lot of things that Senator Pearce is saying, they found are taken out of context. Even if they were talking about that, it is an isolated incident. He has not been able to mention any other school districts that have had this problem. If they were teaching, which they are not, the overthrow of the American government, the proper way to address that is through the local school boards. This bill is trying to address a single incident by having a broad, overreaching attempt to have a chilling effect on education throughout the state.

>>Russell Pearce:
I wish that was only partly true, and I appreciate what David said, but it is not true. People have gone down there, testify, curriculum, attended the class, petitions from 50 students on the campus, about the hostile environment that it has created for them. The hate that comes out of there and it affects the entire school. Let me finish. It is just not true. Go down and look at it. They sent me the books. I looked at the books, the material, talked to Tom Horne. It is the state's job. They're taking state money; it is our job to regulate them. It is revolution -- that is our job to get involved.

>>David Lujan:
The answer is to go to the local school board in Tucson and have them change it. If somebody came to me and said our school district was teaching that, we would be out there to change it. The voters in Tucson, if they disagree, if that is the case that they're teaching that, that is their answer to this.

>>Russell Pearce:
Good point. I appreciate that to some degree. I wish that school board would change it. If this bill does nothing else than make the public aware, this is bad stuff going on. I'm grateful for that. That debate has to go forth. The school board is behind this curriculum. Congressman -- pushes this agenda. They have no intention -- $2.5 million a year pushing this garbage. It is garbage. It is revolution, anti-white, anti-American. Hate speech.

>>Ted Simons:
Let's say there is a problem in Tucson and the idea is to supersede somehow the school governing board to take care of that problem, that being said, your bill states the primary purpose of public education is inculcation of values of American citizenship and the bill states you cannot denigrate American values and teachings of western civilization. What does that mean?

>>Russell Pearce:
You make a good point there. This is a draft that came out of ledge counsel, language that was given to them. We have a major revision of this draft. This bill is fairly broad. There's some good things in the bill, but it is written too broadly. Major draft revision in place to be sure we deal with the issue we're talking about. I believe groups have the right to meet with like-minded groups as long as you are meeting for the right reasons, but my tax dollars are not going to go to support that kind of hate stuff on campus. You can meet off campus and bad mouth your government that is one of the first amendments of the constitution, the right to criticize your government without fear of going to jail. I believe in that. But my tax dollars are not going to promote revolution on campus.

>>Ted Simons:
What is wrong with making sure that classes, public education tax fund classes don't denigrate the United States?

>>David Lujan:
There is nothing wrong with that. We already do it now. I can tell you we have the Arizona Academic Standards which prescribe what schools are supposed to teach. We have the aims test. If you talk to any teacher these days, they will tell you their frustrations, they are required to teach to the test. They don't have time to teach anything outside of the Arizona Academic Standards. There is no time for school districts to teach all of these things Russell is saying. It is flat out not true that you have a problem where school districts are teaching these things. If anything, it's an isolated incident. It is a teacher. This is not a problem in Arizona, and Russell's Bill is not necessary.

>>Ted Simons:
Russell, did we need a law, more finely tuned than it is, to deal with what could be a problem in one school district?

>>Russell Pearce:
Well, this is taught in other school districts throughout the nation, but in Arizona, clearly, we talk about we already have laws. Tom Horne, the superintendent of public instruction, and we have a school board of education, you would think that when they ask for materials, because that is their job, they would get them. They didn't. That is why the bill is necessary, too. What it does do is give it teeth. What they did down there, tell him, go pack sand. We're not going to give it to you. When he got it, he only got pieces of it. Wouldn't share the curriculum with him. And attacked him for asking them.

>>Ted Simons:
Should there be more power given to the education chief to address the situation like this?

>>David Lujan:
I can't imagine anymore power than what this bill gives them. So broad, so vague, it would allow the state superintendent of public instruction to determine what they believe are American values and the teaching of western civilization. Let me just say, apparently Russell doesn't understand that we're in a global economy today. So, that means our Arizona students today are not just competing against students in California and Texas and New York, they're competing against students in India, Japan, China. Our students need to learn about their cultures and histories if they're going to compete. I believe, if you want to talk about being patriotic and keeping America strong, we have to give our students the tools they need to compete in a global economy, and Russell's Bill is the opposite of that.

>>Russell Pearce:
Well, David, that is so unfair. Absolutely untrue. This isn't about teaching culture. This is about teaching hate, in order for the Latinos to survive, the white man must go, if not, we will kill them.

>>David Lujan:
That is not --

>>Russell Pearce:
This is, it is in the books. I have the pages. I will let you read them. It is in the books and they teach it, David. Why would they reject, when Tom Horne goes down and asks for that, they attacked him, refused to give him the information. He is the superintendent of public instruction. He ought to be able to look at that curriculum and not hide the curriculum. Taught for years --

>>David Lujan:
Chilling effect on all school districts --

>>Russell Pearce:
If you had one abuse of a citizen or one gal in a workplace being sexually abused, would that be, oh, that's one incident, we ignore it? You respond to it, David. You don't ignore it. This is sedition, hostile environment. Petition of 50 students who said this is dangerous and threatening and it has created a hostile environment around the campus. Let those 50 students --

>>Ted Simons:
Real quickly here, now, I want to get back to the bill's language. Again, we're focusing on this one district, but this is a state law that you are trying to get here.

>>Russell Pearce:
It applies to everybody.

>>Ted Simons:
How would you teach political protests against the Vietnam War in the 60s without violating this law?

>>Russell Pearce:
You could -- makes it very clear. This is about teaching and promoting untruths and sedition.

>>Ted Simons:
How do you differentiate teaching and promoting?

>>Russell Pearce:
There is a debate. You know, based on truths. And that debate is good. That's why I say we have a major revision going on in the bill. You need to see the amendments. This bill was written too broad like many bills, we amend them as we go through the process to be sure we end up with the language that we are intending. I have asked Tom Horne to look at it. I have sent a copy to tom horn, asked for other input to be sure it is crafted the way we want. I will not with my tax dollar support hate speech. This is hate speech. Anti-American, sedition, revolutionary talk in a high school.

>>Ted Simons:
Can there be legislation, narrowing focus on Russell Pearce's legislation to address some of these concerns without having anyone whoever teaches anything about the Soviet Union if they are going to have their school district fined?

>>David Lujan:
We have provisions to take care of it, Arizona Academic Standards. Districts prescribed to teach certain things and they are tested on that through the AIMS test. If students are not meeting the standards, schools are penalized. What school is going to take the time to teach these things if their students are not going to be able to pass the AIMS test?

>>Ted Simons:
Final question for you. American values. Are they not strong enough to be able to withstand one, lone school district that may or may not be crossing a couple of lines here and there regarding instruction? Certainly American values are strong enough to withstand that.

>>Russell Pearce:
That is a good question, let me tell you, it is just like saying aren't we moral enough that we can tolerate a little sexual abuse or a little sexual harassment in the workplace. There is no place for that.

>>Ted Simons:
No one is saying tolerate. US Values, American values, western civilization may somehow be compromised by a class like this.

>>Russell Pearce:
It is not a debate about culture. It is not that. You have to read the materials. Again, I just got some of it here. I just have some of it here. And it goes way beyond. This is bad stuff. It should not be tolerated. This is hate speech. Never tolerate the KKK being taught down there. This is comparable to that.

>>David Lujan:
Materials would have been reported by the newspapers down there, they said they looked at the materials and it was taken out of context. It's just not true

>>Ted Simons:
We have to stop.

>>Russell Pearce:
This is out of control --

>>Ted Simons:
We have to stop it right there. Thank you very much for the conversation and the dialogue.

>> Thank you.

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