Rough Notes on Arizona

This could happen only in Arizona, or could it happen elsewhere?

By Rodolfo F. Acu??a
Published on LatinoLA: September 23, 2011

Rough Notes on Arizona

In the now infamous Watergate scandal, Deep Throat advised Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to "Follow The money" to find those culpable for the break-in.

In the 1990s, Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado -- in "No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America's Social Agenda" -- follow this advice and trace the role of family foundations in destroying bilingual education and anti-affirmative action and funded eugenics scholarship. No Mercy is a fascinating account on how right wing extremists and think tanks are funded by billionaire zealots who want to protect their tax privileges and power.

The involvement of the Tea Party and neo-fascist organizations in the takeover of Arizona's Republican Party, as well as the war on Mexicans, has been well documented. These groups are wedded by a community interests with the prison industry and gun dealers and manufacturers who profit from the vicious hate-Mexican crusade.

Many articles have drawn direct ties between the Tea Party and Charles and David Koch who fund this racist campaign. The strategy is to use race and lies to undermine school integration as well as programs that have improved the educational performance of not only Mexican American students but others.

A case in point is the Tucson Unified School District Mexican American Studies program that has had incredible results. Failed businessmen and politicos Tom Horne and John Huppenthan have ridden this anti-Mexican hysteria by sowing racism and spreading outright lies. Horne and Hupenthal are the present and past Arizona superintendents of public instruction.

Nowhere else but in Arizona would these two gentlemen have been elected to statewide office.

In the case of Huppenthal, he has taken mendacity to new heights. He ordered a study of the Tucson program, squandering $170,000 on a report that contradicted his conclusions. In order to vindicate himself, he is now holding hearings at the state capital; this time he goes too far and shows his hand by exposing who is pulling his strings. Using Deep Throats advice to "follow the money;" the connections are clear.

One of his expert witnesses is Susan Stotsky, a mathematics professor at the University of Arkansas, who has made a career as an expert on multicultural education, of which she knows nothing about. She is heavily funded by right wing foundations and has served on various commissions under Republican presidents. Like my lawyer Moe Vasquez would say, she is a paid gun -- she'll say anything for a buck. Stotsky is part of that right wing conspiracy to kill multicultural studies. If this were a trial and not just hearings, a case could be made by following the money: Who has funded her research? What are her qualifications? However, Huppenthal controls the hearings and has not allowed for cross examination.

What do we know about Stotsky? The thing that came leaping out at me is that she is on the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars. Founded in 1987, the NAS was spearheaded by Stephen Balch, who believed that Western Civilization was under siege and he had to defend it. From the beginning, the NAS attacked anything that advocated critical thinking. Among the funders are the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Olin Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, the Koch brothers, and the Earhart and Coors foundations. The Kochs, since the mid-90s when it funded the Cato Institute, have become major players on the funding of right wing foundations.

Stotsky's testimony will come as no surprise. Unlike the Cambium National Academic Educational Partners she is not a committed to the truth and objectivity but has been paid for. Only in Arizona could a person who knows nothing about Mexican American children, never taught them, and has a well-documented prejudice against Mexican American Studies testify as an expert witness.

In Arizona, Horne and Huppenthal served as superintendents of public instruction without knowing anything about education. Now they are paying to have their biases affirmed by a bought witness.

This could happen only in Arizona, or could it happen elsewhere?

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