Mexican American Studies makes return to THMS

Mariaely Bustamante, Cactus Chronicle

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THMS once stood at the forefront of a statewide debate that temporarily ended a beloved Mexican American Studies class.

Seven years later, the class is back.

In 2010, a Mexican American Studies (MAS) curriculum received some negative attention.

Arizona Govenor Jan Brewer proposed House Bill 2281, which prohibited a class that was designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group, teaches oppressing another race, overthrowing the government or advocated ethnic solidarity.

As a result, in order keep state funding, TUSD dismantled the course.

Liz Hernandez, a former student of THMS, said that she found herself when studying MAS. She was devastated when the program was dismantled.

“I was literally heartbroken because that was a part of me, It was like they [MAS community] were my family,” Hernandez said.

To fight back, the students of THMS and their parents filed a lawsuit, because they believed the House Bill 2281 violated the 1st and 14th amendment.

“I was literally heartbroken because that was a part of me, It was like they [MAS community] were my family,” Hernandez said.

MAS was formed by Mexican American faculty staff in the UA. By 1975, it was known as the Mexican American Studies Committee.

It was formed to empower students to embrace their culture and invite others to learn about the Mexican American culture targeting the expertise of race, ethnicity and current events. The curriculum attempted to open students’ minds to think critically of the world around them. 

“It wasn’t till I was a junior at THMS, when I took the course, that I started to learn about my history,” Hernandez said.

From 2010-2011, 53,000 students were enrolled in MAS—90 percent were Latinos and 100 percent graduated while the average graduation rate is only 48 percent..

During the trial, Gonzalez v. Douglas, Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima ruled that the bill indeed violated the 1st and 14th amendment.

With the success, TUSD renewed the course and it is now available at THMS once again.

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Mexican American Studies makes return to THMS