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ARIZONA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Forty-seventh Legislature – Second Regular Session
Minutes of Meeting
House Hearing Room 5 -- 1:00 p.m.
Mr. Allen, Chairman
Tom Horne, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction
Dr. Raj Chopra, Superintendent, Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD)
Dr. Abel Morado, Principal, Tucson High Magnet School
Roger Pfeuffer, Superintendent, Tucson Unified School District
David Horowitz, representing self
Mon-yee Fung, representing self
Representative Ben Miranda
Persons recognized who did not speak (pages 17, 19)
Reverend Jarrett Maupin, representing National Action Network
Robert Reveles, representing self
Manuel de J. Hernandez, representing self
Richard Studwell, representing self
Gloria Copeland, representing self
Debbie Campos Fleenor, representing self
Mary Terry Schlitz, representing self
Chairman Allen said the purpose of the Committee today is to look at things that are going on in government, how they operate, what performance measures the Legislature has put out there, and how they are met, and whether they are operating efficiently or creating waste. He said the subject of today’s meeting is two specific areas relating to education: how they handled the school portion of the marches on illegal immigration, only in the area of which they had participation.
Chairman Allen said that due to technical sound difficulties, the meeting would stand at recess.
1:48 p.m. The meeting reconvened and all members were present. Chariman Allen said the second issue for the meeting is the appropriateness of an assembly that took place in a public school in Tucson.
Mr. Gallardo said he realized that the Committee could focus on any area. However, these issues would be better dealt with at the local level, i.e. the school boards.
Tom Horne, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, said he had been asked to comment on the advice he gave to school districts regarding the march that took place. He said he made two points: 1) Students have a precious first amendment right to demonstrate, and the schools encourage the students to exercise their constitutional rights, and see that as an educational opportunity to teach. 2) Most high schools let out at 2:00 p.m. and that gave the students plenty of time to exercise those rights after school. In addition to student rights, they also have responsibilities, one of which is to demonstrate after 2:00 p.m., and to attend school. Mr. Horne said students must acquire academic skills to succeed in the today’s economy. Employers say that in addition to academic skills, they need students who have developed habits of conscientiousness and punctuality.
Mr. Horne read a letter written by Dr. Raj Chopra, Superintendent, Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD), to the parents of high school students that expressed the educational reasons students should not miss school (Attachment 1). Mr. Horne praised Superintendent Chopra and the Phoenix Union High School District for the way they handled the situation and holds it up as an example to other school districts.
Mr. Horne said Mr. Gallardo also exercised a positive influence.
Mr. Gallardo said he did not do it alone, that many members from the community stood with him to encourage students to stay in school.
Mr. Gallardo asked if Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) ever indicated that students should walk out and march. Mr. Horne said he was told that the Superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District also sent a letter to parents encouraging students to be in school and learn. He said by praising Phoenix Union he was not intending to imply any criticism of TUSD.
Mr. Gallardo said there was a press release sent out by Superintendent Horne on April 14, 2006, which spoke to Tucson High Magnet School and their guests. The press release stated that Dolores Huerta encouraged students at the assembly to ditch school. Mr. Gallardo said he looked at the transcript and listened to the speech by Dolores Huerta and never heard that comment.
Mr. Horne explained the press
release contained information he had been told, and he issued that press
release immediately. He said a review of the transcript of the speech
Ms. Huerta did not expressly ask students to ditch school. He said he apologizes for the original statement. Mr. Horne said that Tucson Unified School District has agreed that Margaret Garcia Dugan, Deputy Superintendent of Schools, can address the students on May 12, 2006.
Mr. Paton said he disagrees with Mr. Gallardo’s interpretation of the speech by Dolores Huerta. Mr. Paton said what he heard was not only encouraging students to leave school, but also praising those students who had already left. Mr. Paton said he thought Ms. Huerta used the phrase “we will continue to march” and he thought the implication was that the students would be marching on Monday. Mr. Paton said he knew the MECHA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) students inside the school were handing out pamphlets educating students on how to leave school and when they could march.
Mr. Gallardo said the issue is if the Tucson School District encouraged students to walk out, and that is not correct. As to the question of whether Ms. Huerta encouraged students to walk out or ditch on the day of the march, he said Ms. Huerta encouraged people to continue to march and fight for this particular issue, and she encouraged people who could not march to join her in a letter or postcard writing campaign to the Congressional representatives to encourage immigration reform.
Mr. Paton said he respectfully disagreed with Mr. Gallardo’s interpretation.
Mr. Horne said the part he
objected to was when she (Ms. Huerta) said Republicans hate Hispanics. He said
personally, as a statewide elected Republican, the most active support group in
his campaign was Latino parents who wanted their kids to learn English
Mr. Horne testified the statement she (Ms. Huerta) made was incorrect.
Mr. Gallardo said Mr. Horne stated in his press release, “My strongest support group in my last election was Latino parents.” He asked what that number was based on. Mr. Horne said he was speaking of people who were active in his campaign.
Dr. Raj Chopra, Superintendent, Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD), said he appreciated the invitation and the opportunity to address the Committee on issues related to the immigration rally and its impact on the Phoenix Union High School District. Dr. Chopra explained PUHSD covers 220 square miles of central Phoenix and serves 24,000 students from grades 9-12, with ten large high schools and four small schools. He said 75 percent of the student population is Hispanic, and about 90 percent of the students are ethnic minorities. Academically, all the schools are performing and meet adequate yearly progress according to the Federal Government No Child Left Behind standards. He said Maryvale had the greatest improvement of any Arizona school in Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMs) writing, and five schools that showed the greatest gain in writing were in the PUHSD. He said Trevor Brown had the greatest improvement of any Arizona school in AIMs reading and three PUHSD schools were among the top ten improved schools in the state.
Dr. Chopra said he was asked to
attend this hearing to provide information regarding recent student
participation in demonstrations concerning immigration issues, and, in
April 10, 2006. He said on that day PUHSD did experience significantly higher than normal absenteeism. On April 10, the day of the march and rally related to immigration reform, 6,576 students were absent from PUHSD, which is about three times higher than a typical Monday. He said he does not know how many students were out of school to march in the demonstration that day, but he does know that the anticipation of the march kept some students from school due to the close proximity of PUHSD schools to the route and rally destination. He said that he believes some students used the march as an excuse to take the day off.
Dr. Chopra explained that three of every four PUHSD students are Latino and the issue of immigration is personal and emotional for many of students, affecting either them or their parents and family members. On April 10, virtually no students left PUHSD campuses during the day. PUHSD did not support or condone the missing of classes on that day, or any other day. He said he sent letters to all parents in PUHSD encouraging them to talk with their child and make sure they attended school on April 10; they worked with Latino leaders including school board members, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, to send the message to not miss school. He said school board members, including Representative David Lujan and Representative Gallardo, met with students prior to April 10 to reinforce the message. There were 160 teachers absent on April 10, which is only slightly higher than an average Monday. The AIMs testing was not impacted in any way, even though media reports indicated otherwise. Dr. Chopra stressed that education provides the tools necessary for young people to improve their lives, and realize their full potential in this great land. He said PUHSD would continue to be proactive in promoting the virtues of education in the community.
Mr. Allen said he appreciates Dr. Chopra’s ability to articulate the value of a level playing field through education, which is reflected in what he has accomplished in a short time at PUHSD.
In response to query from Mr. Paton, Dr. Chopra said the staff is dedicated, and they recognize their job is to educate young people by being there. He said he is proud of PUHSD teachers, they do a great job, expectations are high and the staff meets those expectations.
Mr. Allen said PUHSD staff made an effort to convince people to stay in school.
Dr. Chopra said when he learned of the march, he called the principals together and they discussed strategy and how to influence communications with staff, so it was a collective group effort to encourage students to stay in school. The same message was given in every high school throughout the PUHSD. He said he is very proud of his students. He also gave credit to Hispanic leaders and school board members who encouraged students to participate in the demonstration after school.
Mr. Gallardo asked if in certain schools the easiest access for students to leave school would be to jump the fence and Dr. Chopra replied that is correct, and some students did jump the fence, which was a safety issue.
Mr. Paton asked how PUHSD got the students back in school after the demonstration at the State Capitol on March 23, 2006. Dr. Chopra said some did not come back. Principals were asked to treat any absences the same as any other truancy.
Mr. Gallardo said it is important to clarify that Dr. Chopra spoke of the importance of the education process in terms of a civic lesson.
Mr. Allen said he wanted to discuss two things: 1) student reaction to some of the marches, 2) choices for assembly guests and speakers.
Mr. Paton asked Dr. Morado to explain the purpose of assemblies at Tucson High.
Dr. Abel Morado, Principal, Tucson High Magnet School, responded there are generally three pep assemblies, plus a homecoming assembly, related to sports teams. He said there are sign-up assemblies held throughout the year that are usually organized by teachers, and there is usually an assembly held by MECHA.
Mr. Paton said he sent a letter to the Superintendent of Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), in which he asked about the purpose of the Dolores Huerta speech and the utility of that speech. The reply he received from Mr. Pfeuffer was that (TUSD) officials asked Ms. Huerta to offer inspiration to students preparing to take the AIMs test on April 4, 2006. In response to query from Mr. Paton, Dr. Morado said he agreed that one of the primary purposes of Ms. Huerta’s speech was to encourage students to achieve on the AIMs test.
Mr. Paton asked if Dr. Morado would agree that motivation is an issue that Dr. Morado tries to address as principal of Tucson High and that Ms. Huerta’s speech is a part of that.
Dr. Morado replied that motivation is a big part of educational research regarding improvement of achievement and getting students to do well academically. He said Ms. Huerta’s presence at Tucson High had the component of motivation because it was close to the time of the AIMs test of April 4, 2006. He agreed with Mr. Paton that any effort to demotivate students from taking the AIMs test would be a bad thing.
Mr. Paton asked if Dr. Morado recalled an assembly on October 27, one of the days for retaking the AIMs test, when two individuals spoke to students. Dr. Morado said he did recall knowing of an assembly on that day.
Mr. Allen asked what was stated in that assembly. Dr. Morado said he was told one or both of the speakers had made derogatory comments about the AIMs test.
Mr. Paton said from the reports he heard, the only people invited to go to that assembly were African-American students. He said these students were rounded up and pulled out of class to go to the assembly.
Dr. Morado asked for more information, or sources, that lead Mr. Paton to make that statement.
Mr. Paton said he had heard that information from faculty at the school and from others in the administration. He said he thought the assembly was commemorating Rosa Parks.
Dr. Morado said it is not Tucson High’s policy that an assembly is restricted to a particular group or race. Assemblies are open to all students.
Mr. Allen asked if Dr. Morado signed-off on assemblies. Dr. Morado said he did but he does not believe a Rosa Parks assembly took place.
Dr. Morado said he checked with staff and is unaware that a Rosa Parks assembly took place. He said it is possible it took place and was unauthorized; however, he does not believe that happened.
Mr. Allen asked Dr. Morado to
specify what derogatory remarks were made. Dr. Morado said it is his
understanding that the speaker dropped the “F” bomb in reference to the AIMs
Dr. Morado said he is not sure that assembly had any reference to AIMs.
Mr. Paton asked if Dr. Morado
knew of the original intent of the assembly on October 27.
Dr. Morado said he did not. Mr. Paton said it was his understanding that only African-American students were present, and they were segregated, and were told “F” the AIMs test and “F” all tests.”
Dr. Morado said clearly those are inappropriate statements.
Mr. Paton said about a week after the Huerta speech, there was a speech given by Congressman Raul Grijalva, and after that speech, students from the MECHA club were invited to speak to the assembled audience of students. Mr. Paton asked if Dr. Morado recalled any particular phrases or language the MECHA students used.
Dr. Morado replied no. He said he was in and out of the assembly after Congressman Grajalva spoke.
Mr. Paton asked if it would surprise Dr. Morado to know that the students reiterated the statements of Dolores Huerta that Republicans hate Latinos.
Dr. Morado said he did hear about that a few days ago, and he inquired from individuals who were at the assembly for the duration, and the report he received was they did not make those statements. Dr. Morado said he did hear through e-mail that some students had made those types of comments.
Mr. Paton asked if that particular assembly was a voluntary or mandatory assembly. Dr. Morado said that was a signup assembly, which means the teacher signs up to go.
Mr. Paton asked if Congressman Grijalva advocated for the passage or defeat of any particular legislation at that particular assembly. Mr. Morado said he believed he did.
Mr. Paton asked if the students
afterward advocated for the passage or defeat of legislation at that assembly.
Mr. Morado said yes, the students spoke of the defeat of a particular piece of
legislation. Mr. Paton asked if there was an opportunity for other students at
that assembly who disagreed with the MECHA students or Congressman Grijalva to
say anything they wanted.
Dr. Morado replied no.
Mr. Brown said he was a little late and does not know what he missed. He asked if Tucson does not have a school board. Mr. Brown said he would not be angry if there was a meeting like this and that the school board should handle the situation. Mr. Brown said he has heard swear words in his life that he did not agree with, and he thought someone should have been reprimanded, and sometimes they were and sometimes they were not. Mr. Brown asked if the Committee is the judge and the jury to decide if rules were broken at Tucson High.
Chairman Allen said the Committee will also be talking with the Superintendent of the School District. He said the Legislature invests a lot of time and energy in education issues. He said a lot of extra money is invested in some districts under desegregation orders because of civil rights issues that are a great burden upon the taxpayers. Mr. Allen stated the Legislature writes the laws on what is expected out of schools and if the Legislature wants to have a hearing to find out if there is something lacking in the approach to school districts, it is appropriate. He said there is a situation where, clearly, something is out of bounds, and if the school board is unaware of this, he would be greatly surprised. He said because “they” take state money, and the Legislature is the steward of that money, this sort of thing should be vented at the Legislature where the Legislature can appropriately deal with the effects it might have on other school districts.
Mr. Gallardo concurred with Mr. Brown that this is a school board issue, and asked, at the end of the day, after badgering the witness, what would be accomplished.
Mr. Allen said he was not badgering anybody.
Mr. Gallardo said this is a local control issue that should be addressed by the school board. He said if there is an event held strictly for African-American students, other students should be allowed to attend.
Mr. Allen said he is willing to listen to all of the witnesses and then give him a determination on the matter.
Mr. Paton said this is the second largest school district in the state, and the amount of money they receive is enormous. He said the Legislature has wrestled with issues of desegregation, and desegregation orders, and this school district is under a desegregation order. He said he found it ironic that a school district under a desegregation order would have an issue of segregation within an individual school. He said the Committee has not been able to establish if it did happen, but he wants to find out the answer. The Committee has a compelling interest in making sure that a school district under a desegregation order and receiving special taxing authority is adhering to the law.
In response to query from Mr. Murphy, Dr. Morado said there are two assemblies. He said if the Committee is referring to an assembly regarding Rosa Parks that issue has surfaced at the school within the site council and he has not been able to ascertain there was an assembly honoring Rosa Parks. He said there was an assembly where two speakers came and spoke to students, and whether they spoke exclusively to African-American students, he does not know.
Mr. Murphy said if there are only
four to six sign-up assemblies a year, he is confused how
Dr. Morado would be so vague and unclear about the circumstances of any assembly that required approval.
Dr. Morado replied it may not have been a traditional signup assembly. It may have been a couple of classes gathered and those teachers worked with speakers, and gathered at a small assembly hall. He said it is also possible he was not in the loop.
Mr. Murphy asked if the school’s policy is to allow speakers to come on to campus that he knows nothing about just because a teacher or teachers want to have that happen during class time.
Dr. Morado replied that is not the intent. He said he would rather have been aware, and would rather have been in the room when the statements were made because he would have made attempts to correct the issue. Unfortunately, he was not there and heard about it after the fact.
Mr. Murphy said he believes good leadership would provide a policy that would make it clear to teachers that they must get approval before they bring anybody into an assembly to speak to students to make sure only appropriate things happen.
Dr. Morado said it is likely that for the October 27 assembly, the teachers who organized the assembly did go through one of the offices of the assistant principals, made the reservation, and made the appropriate accommodations, which does not necessarily mean that he would have been in the loop.
Mr. Gallardo said for clarification, Phoenix Union High School, which has good leadership, does not have that type of policy in their handbook. He said it is important not to say that Tucson Unified does not have good leadership because they do not have a policy that most school districts do not have.
Mr. Allen asked if Mr. Gallardo was suggesting the Legislature should give some guidance on this next year. Mr. Gallardo replied local school boards should make these decisions.
Mr. Murphy said his point was not that the school board should be intimately involved in every assembly, but that the principal of a high school campus should be aware and approve of any guest speaker that comes on campus to speak to students so they can exercise good judgment over those presentations.
Mr. Gallardo said he is invited to speak in a number of schools in PUHSD and it does not go through the principal.
Chairman Allen asked what were the geneses that led Tucson High to have Dolores Huerta as a speaker on April 3. Dr. Morado said it was offered on March 23, and he knew there would be a Cesar Chavez commemoration day on April 2, and Dolores Huerta was going to be in Tucson to participate. Dr. Morado said he felt that Ms. Huerta would give an outstanding message to students with respect to labor organization. This was prior to any walkouts that occurred in the Tucson area. He said he heard her speak when he was about 15 years old.
Chairman Allen asked if Dr. Morado, or other faculty, spoke with Ms. Huerta as to what hopes were for the assembly. Dr. Morado replied no, he greeted her at the door, and he attended the speech.
Chairman Allen said he views the public school system as an extension of his parental authority while his kids are in school and asked if Dr. Morado agrees that is the trust that people put in him when they send children to his school. Dr. Morado said he agrees with that statement, and it is a heavy responsibility.
Chairman Allen said at the assembly children were there who might have been from families of evangelical Christians, or Catholics or Orthodox Jews.
Dr. Morado said at an assembly at TUSD, he is always aware there will be students that come from different cultures, religions and political beliefs.
Chairman Allen said there was an activist at an assembly who started saying things like “a woman’s right to choose is this and that” “gay marriage is this and that.”
Mr. Gallardo said abortion was not brought up in the speech.
Chairman Allen said that he heard it on a CD. He asked Dr. Morado if he was being a good steward of those students’ parental authority by having somebody trying to challenge their family values on issues such as that.
Dr. Morado said he stands by his decision to invite Ms. Huerta to speak at the campus, and he did not check her speech at the door, and if he had to do it over again, he would not check the speech. He said he did not check the speech of Congressman Grijalva, and if Mr. Allen came to speak at Tucson High, and he is invited, Dr. Morado would not check Mr. Allen’s speech.
Mr. Allen asked if the school Superintendent had any conversations with Dr. Morado about this particular speech and outlined anything that should never happen again at the school as far as assemblies.
Dr. Morado replied the statement that was regrettable was when Dolores Huerta stated three times that Republicans hate Latinos. He said he and Mr. Pfeuffer spoke about that.
Mr. Allen read a list of things he heard Ms. Huerta say and asked if any of those items came up in the Dr. Morado’s conversation with Mr. Pfeuffer and Dr. Morado said no.
Dr. Morado said it is not uncommon in a high school to have speakers that make controversial statements. That is not a disqualifying factor for a speech. He said when Ms. Huerta said Republicans hate Latinos, that statement was inappropriate.
Mr. Allen said that comment was
foolish and hateful. Mr. Allen said his concern is that
Dr. Morado has not set out guidelines on what will not be accepted, and did not impose guidelines on Congressman Grijalva’s speech. Mr. Allen asked at what point in the totem pole would Dr. Morado tell speakers not to insult the families that send their kids to school.
Dr. Morado responded Tucson High has not traditionally checked speeches at the door, nor has he heard that has been done, which begs the question when would they do that. He said they would do that if they felt the speaker’s history was such that they would come and inflame the audience by speaking about hate and values that are inconsistent with district values. He said Ms. Huerta’s message had been positive, and had, of course, been controversial and biased, but they did not know she would utter that statement.
Mr. Allen said Dr. Morado knew the speaker was controversial and biased, and he did not instruct her by saying “We are a high school and we have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the efforts of the parents of these children to raise them in a certain direction, so we expect you to stick within the bounds of this, this and this when you speak.”
Dr. Morado said the issue of Dolores Huerta going to Tucson High had to do with her past experiences, and her history as a labor organizer, and was connected to the issue of the Cesar Chavez celebration.
Mr. Murphy referenced A.R.S. Section
15-511, D & C (Attachment 2), and asked if some of
Ms. Huerta’s comments crossed the line by not, at the least, allowing for the alternate point of view at the same time.
Dr. Morado replied that in the way Mr. Murphy framed the question, yes, Ms. Huerta did cross the line.
Mr. Brown said he cannot believe that the Committee is saying we should know what anybody is going to say when they come to speak to our kids.
Mr. Allen said that is not what he is saying, but rather that a school should lay out criteria that are acceptable.
Mr. Brown said he has spoken at a lot of schools over a lot of years, has had the principal meet him at the door, had dinner before the speech, and has never yet had anyone ask him to give them a resume or an outline of what he was going to talk about, and that is part of our education system. Mr. Brown said kids hear things at school he does not necessarily agree with but that is alright, he can handle that at home. He said he does not believe this law applies to him when he goes on a campus.
Mrs. Groe said we should absolutely know what people are going to say to our students when we ask them to speak in front of our children.
Mr. Allen said he is not saying he knows how “we” might do that. He said Mr. Brown is right in 99.9 percent of situations, but he said if “we” do not deal with the exceptions, “we” then increase those exceptions.
Mr. Paton said there is a Teenage Republican Club at Tucson High and they put up a sign on the wall inside of the school.
Dr. Morado said the sign read, in part, “Be a good American, join the Teenage Republican Club.” Mr. Morado said he did not personally have a problem with the sign but staff members were offended by the statement, the implication being you are not good American if you are not in the Teenage Republican Club. In response to query from Mr. Paton, Dr. Morado said some people thought the sign was inflammatory.
Mr. Paton said the sign was taken down, and asked if some of the statements Dolores Huerta made were inflammatory as well. Dr. Morado agreed.
Mr. Paton said Ms. Huerta’s speech is still on the TUSD (Tucson Unified School District) website, and asked if there was an inconsistency that the students had to take down their sign, but the speech is still on the website.
Dr. Morado said someone else would need to answer the question about the speech being on the website.
Mr. Gallardo read the introduction by Dr. Morado of Dolores Huerta on April 3: “We also want to be respectful to the fact that there may be differences of opinion because as a school we have to foster dissent in a respectful way. We also need a way to understand that when there is an issue that brings two opposing viewpoints, that as a school administration, we need to be respectful of both sides.”
Mr. Gallardo stated there is no policy within the school district that would require the administration to look at the speech of anyone invited to speak.
Dr. Morado said he is unaware of any such policy.
Roger Pfeuffer, Superintendent, Tucson Unified School District, explained that he and other school officials met with the Tucson mayor, members of the City Council, members of the County Board of Supervisors, and other civic leaders and other superintendents in the Pima County area. He said they drafted a letter that was published in the Sunday newspaper and was sent home to parents of students to encourage students to attend school the day of the march.
Mr. Allen asked if the results of Tucson High were similar to those of PUHSD on April 10. He said PUHSD does have a larger number of Hispanic students and they have similar desegregation court orders.
Mr. Pfeuffer explained PUHSD is a
high school district of about 24,000 students. Tucson Unified School District
(TUSD) is a grade K-12 district with approximately 60,000 students. PUHSC has
ten schools and TUSD has 106. TUSD is in a historic Hispanic community with significant
generational ties with Sonora and Northern Mexico. The recent issues with the
border have become very problematic for large numbers of people within the
district. TUSD student population is 64 percent minority, 54 percent of those
are Hispanic, approximately 6-7 percent are African American, about 4 percent
are Native American, about
3 percent are Asian, and the rest are Anglos.
Mr. Allen asked if TUSD Hispanics
are more passionate on this issue than the PUHSD Hispanic community. Mr.
Pfeuffer said 11,500 out of 60,000 students did not attend school
Mr. Allen asked if that could be attributed to poor management of the issue at the administration level.
Mr. Pfeuffer said approximately 525 teacher substitutes were called for on April 10, which is not atypical of a Monday. There are 3,700 teachers at TUSD.
Mr. Paton said he received a letter and had a conversation with a TUSD school board member, Judy Burns, and she commented “I believe it is our responsibility as trustees and administrators of public school districts to deliver a top-notch education to every student in our charge……..” Mr. Paton questioned whether keeping the “statement on the website” is a use of state resources in furtherance of a candidate or a campaign.
Mr. Pfeuffer said absolutely not. He said the question catches him by surprise because he never considered the speech favors any candidate. In the letter written to parents, TUSD said they would provide class discussions, forums, debates, and also made the commitment to give a 360-degree view of the information. He explained TUSD took articles out of national newspapers from all different sides, and put together lesson plans that were all put on the website. He said when he heard Ms. Huerta was going to speak at Tucson High, he made the decision to have that audio screened live, and then put it on the website as a resource classrooms could use. He said he is offended by the “hate” remark. He said he is offended by many ideas he hears or reads about. Mr. Pfeuffer said he is surprised that a body such as Legislators who have to deal with diverse ideas and try to work out solutions from diverse viewpoints, expresses fear that our kids are hearing diverse viewpoints.
Mr. Allen asked if there is no criteria that is unacceptable for things to be said to kids at school.
Mr. Pfeuffer replied no. He said he and Dr. Morado agree that anything that tends to interrupt the educational process, that would create divisiveness, or create fear in the education environment, should not be allowed.
Mr. Allen asked what if it interferes with the parental authority and investment in a certain traditional view of many of the families that have sent kids to TUSD.
Mr. Pfeuffer replied TUSD is about education, not about espousing any particular value, but exposing kids to all kinds of different ideas and values.
Mr. Allen said he does not mind if his kids are exposed to general knowledge of other world views, but there was doctrine in that speech which was diametrically opposed to what a lot of parents have invested a lot of time and effort in to telling their kids is not true, and asked if the school does not have a fiduciary responsibility that certain types of speech that go to “those types of areas” is not appropriate.
Mr. Pfeuffer said that for high school students to be exposed to the idea that a speaker believes in gay marriages, women’s choice, that there are political systems that are successful, is only educational. All of these issues have many viewpoints and high school students today are hearing those views through the media, the Internet, etc.
Mr. Allen said if he wants to tell his kids not to watch certain talk shows, not to log onto certain Internet blocs, not to watch certain movies, and rather to have conversations at the dinner table where these things are framed in a relevant and pertinent way, and instruct them in a certain way, should he not expect the school system to not undermine those conversations with a person preaching a political movement for a political agenda, in an atmosphere that somehow this is an icon of some other movement. Mr. Allen said Ms. Huerta is a labor organizer and was given free rein to speak on any issue that was on her mind as if she was an authority on all of those things, and undermined many of the family values in an atmosphere wherein students were not given an immediate balance. Mr. Allen asked if that was a good thing for Mr. Pfeuffer’s administration to allow.
Mr. Pfeuffer replied yes, because he believes fully in the idea that professional teachers process that information with students, allowing the students to profess their differing views about what they heard. He said the subject without controversy is not education. We are in an environment in which issues become politicized and polarized and kids need to know the different aspects.
Mr. Allen said he seriously doubts there was any discussion of the opposite of that speech on that campus.
Mr. Pfeuffer said there was information on the website prior to the speech that described the Republican position on immigration, and the Democrat position on immigration.
Mr. Allen said he went to the TUSC website and there thousands of things on that website.
Mr. Allen asked if the speech violates some parents’ interests, should that not also be a component of deciding who speaks and what is said. Mr. Pfeuffer replied yes.
Mr. Allen asked what is the other component besides the educational value.
Mr. Pfeuffer replied local control. He said he has five school board members, one of whom has communicated with Mr. Allen. He said he stood beside two other members at a press conference prior to Ms. Huerta’s speech, advocating that kids stay in school. He said he reports to five board members and he has not had any communication from them other than they feel TUSD is doing the right thing.
Mr. Paton said he thinks Mr. Pfeuffer has done a good job compared to his predecessor. He said there is a state guideline that deals with speech on campus. He said Ms. Huerta asked that people “go out and help people like Raul Grijalva get elected.” He asked if that is political advocacy in a school setting as defined by statute.
Mr. Pfeuffer replied yes.
Mr. Paton asked if Ms. Huerta’s statement violated paragraph B of A.R.S. 15-511.
Mr. Gallardo said paragraph B specifies employees of the school district.
Mr. Paton said the statute says “using school resources.” He said the website is a school resource.
Mr. Pfeuffer said if that is the statute, then the Huerta speech should probably be taken off the website.
Mr. Paton asked Mr. Pfeuffer what he sees as the difference between indoctrination and education.
Mr. Pfeuffer replied it is a slope, there are graduations. Indoctrination is the same message over and again over time, without any other viewpoint being allowed.
Mr. Paton said it may have been called a voluntary assembly but in effect it was not, because the students could not leave and were not given an option to go anywhere else.
Mr. Pfeuffer said a memo went out from Dr. Morado to the faculty regarding attendance at Huerta assembly. The memo said, in bold, “Teachers, those students not interested in attending this presentation should be allowed to go to the library for the duration of the assembly. Please offer this option to your students.” He said there was one student who wanted to go to the assembly, and in the middle asked to leave and the teacher said no. He said he does not agree with the teacher’s response.
Mr. Paton said that the assembly with Dr. Grijalva was not voluntary, if the teacher signed up the students had to go.
Mr. Pfeuffer agreed.
Mr. Paton asked if the sign put up by the Teenage Republican Club was inflammatory.
Mr. Pfeuffer said when he first heard about it, he thought it was connected to the movement this year. Then he found out the sign was put up last year, and found that faculty members expressed concern of the impact on students who felt it was separating a school with a diverse student body.
Mr. Paton asked if there is not a discrepancy and issue of fairness between leaving the speech on the website, and removing the sign.
Mr. Pfeuffer said his concerns now about the speech are not about the controversial nature, but the state law cited by Mr. Paton.
Mr. Paton asked if there is a difference between the nature of speech on a university campus as opposed to a high school and how it is treated by an administration.
Mr. Pfeuffer replied there is a difference in academic freedom at the university level and a K-12 level. He said there is a need for balance.
Mr. Paton read a decision by the United States Supreme Court that said, in part, “determining what information not to present to students is often as important as identifying relevant material to them.”
Mr. Pfeuffer said he agrees with his understanding of what Mr. Paton read, and still agrees with what TUSD is doing. He said the TUSD curriculum is approved by the school board, and includes adherence to Arizona State standards, and he believes the role of a governing board is to say what they want their community to have in order to meet the goals of the state.
David Horowitz, representing self, thanked the Committee for inviting him to speak. He said he is a well-known author, and in his younger days he was a radical agitator like Dolores Huerta. He said he has since joined the mainstream. He said he has created a national organization called Students for Academic Freedom that is on 150 college campuses, which held an academic freedom conference last week in Washington, which was keynoted by Senator Lamar Alexander, who was a Secretary of Education in the first Bush administration. Mr. Horowitz quoted Senator Alexander as follows: “The greatest threat to the funding of education in America is the one-sided dominance of the political left.” He said he has heard talks today from two administrators who have a very unclear idea of what their professional responsibilities are as administrators or what the professional responsibilities of teachers are. He said this is not a free speech issue. It is a professional speech issue. He said for Ms. Huerta to say that Republicans hate Latinos is a vicious slander against Republicans. He said “this woman is a radical, extremist ideologue.”
Chairman Allen said he knows Ms. Fung goes to the school and was at the assembly, and asked if she would tell the Committee what happened and whatever else is pertinent.
Mon-yee Fung, representing self, said it was a volunteer assembly. The teacher said that the students could either go to the assembly or to the library. She said she had heard Dolores Huerta was a really good culture icon, and wanted to hear what she had to say, and wanted to learn more about what was going on. Ms. Fung said Ms. Huerta said twice that Republicans hate Latinos. Ms. Fung said that hurt her a lot because she is close friends with a whole bunch of Mexicans, and to say that she hated them and to classify her in that group really hurt her. She said twice she got up and asked the teacher if she could leave, and was told to sit down, that it was a good speech and she should listen to it, and she said okay.
In response to queries from Chairman Allen, Ms. Fung said she is a senior and goes to school to get an education.
Chairman Allen asked if the assembly was helpful to Ms. Fung in any way. Mr. Allen said it seems as if the principal was saying this is a diverse view, and asked if she had ever seen the other side given at her high school. Ms. Fung replied no. She said if it was a diverse view, she wished they would give the students both sides of the issue, and give them a chance to make their own opinion, rather than having an opinion preached to them.
Mr. Paton asked Ms. Fung how the assembly and everything that surrounded it made her feel. She responded that at first she wanted to listen, but when she heard Ms. Huerta say that Republicans hate Latinos she was really sad, and then angry, because she does not hate them.
Mr. Paton asked what the assembly with Congressman Grijalva was like. Ms. Fung said Congressman Grijalva was pretty neutral about the issue and told them what was going on, and she understood what he was trying to say.
Mr. Paton asked Ms. Fung how it made her feel that they got the chance to speak in such a public way, and she could not even put up her sign in the hallway about what she believes, and asked if that is fair. Ms. Fung said it was not fair because the sign just said “be an American, join the teenage Republican Club,” it did not say anything about being a good, excellent, or patriotic American. Ms. Fung said she designed the sign.
Mr. Murphy asked Ms. Fung if she was aware of an assembly, or meeting, on October 27, that was specific to pulling African American students out of class for a separate assembly and they were the only ones invited. Ms. Fung said she did not know about that.
Representative Ben Miranda, said he has spent many years working with Cesar Chavez with the United Farm Workers, who has become an acceptable figure in terms of his commitment to peaceful change in the country. He asked that the Chairman follow the principals Mr. Chavez said when addressing a group of professors at a university “you know you have done an excellent job of educating the minds of these children, but my question to you is have you educated their hearts.”
Mr. Miranda said as a school board member he took a lead to encourage kids to stay in school during the march simply because of the AIMs exam. He said it was an excellent opportunity to learn something by participating in the march. Mr. Miranda said to put the matter in the proper context, we all have diverse views on immigration, but can agree this is an issue that is tearing up the country in many ways. He said this is historic and the country has not seen this since Viet Nam. Mr. Miranda said he served in Viet Nam, and will take a back seat to no one when it comes to being a patriot to this country. He reminded the Committee that we live in these historic times, and when immigrant students are attending schools and view the hostility of the legislation being proposed. The students view the series of bills going through the Legislature as directed against them, and they see doors closed to them to a higher education in community colleges.
Mr. Allen said they cannot pay in-state tuition, but are allowed to attend community colleges.
Mr. Allen said the purpose of the discussion today is the school’s reactions, not the students.
Mr. Miranda said Mr. Horne testified about the negative image of the march, and no one cut him off. Mr. Miranda said there could be nothing more positive than the sentiments felt on the floor about how orderly and peaceful the march was, and how appealing it was to have families there.
Mr. Allen said he counter-protested at the capitol and was treated with respect.
Mr. Miranda said considering the type of legislation proposed, to a certain extent the words used by Ms. Huerta that Republicans hate Latinos is an indication of reality and the truth.
Mr. Allen said he does not have a single racist bone in his body and hates no one based on race. He said he does not think he hates anyone. He has some real problems with some people. He said he is a Republican who represents many Republicans who he knows do not hate anybody, and there is no truth, or very little truth in the statement that Republicans hate Latinos. He said there are issues between the Republican Party and illegal immigration, which is a disagreement of where we are going as a nation.
Mr. Miranda said his father was an immigrant, and he was born here. He said many times on the floor he has heard people make reference to children born to immigrant families as anchor babies. He said he is an anchor baby, and he could easily take offense to the term, but he does not take it personally. Mr. Miranda said the word “hate” does not belong in anybody’s dictionary, but reality tells us that people do not know how to describe certain situations without use of that word. Mr. Miranda said the Committee spoke of the undermining of the education of children when they attend high school. Mr. Miranda said the education of our kids is undermined in many situations when they go to the YMCA, baseball games, and the prom. Children cannot be shielded from everything.
Mr. Allen said he vests the school system with the extension of his parental authority and that is the way schools are set up.
Mr. Miranda said he went to a Gilbert soccer game about a month ago and heard a young man refer to another student that was picking up trash, saying, “listen, why are you picking up that trash, you are not black,” and not one parent corrected either student.
Mr. Miranda said at Glendale Community College (GCC) a professor used the GCC e-mail system to make clearly racist statements, and the Legislature did not have a hearing on that.
Mr. Allen said if that issue has not been resolved, and if GCC is now defending its right to do so, it will be discussed.
Mr. Miranda said the word hate as used by Ms. Huerta was not meant the way it is described in this discussion.
Persons recognized who did not speak.
Reymundo Jimenez Torres, representing self
Dave Leal, representing self
Reverend Jarrett Maupin, representing National Action Network, said he appreciated Mr. Allen’s comment that he does not have a racist bone in his body, but that he may have one as a character trait, because anyone who compares Dolores Huerta, a leading person in the Latino Civil Human Rights movement, to David Duke, obviously has some issues.
Mr. Allen said he realizes that the standard of freedom of speech is not the same for him as it is for some of the speakers at Tucson Unified, but that he does have the right to free associate.
Reverend Maupin said he feels the Committee has become involved in an issue that should be handled by the school board. Reverend Maupin questioned whether Republicans hate Latinos when there is no English language learner legislation passed in a timely fashion.
Mr. Allen said there is no discrimination involved in English language learners legislation.
Reverend Maupin said Mr. Allen basically called Ms. Huerta a racist, and an inflammatory speaker going into the school and polluting the minds of young people, which sounds like rhetoric. Reverend Maupin said Ms. Huerta is a civil and human rights hero. He said the Committee is using the issue to get back at a community because they demand not to be marginalized or disenfranchised by other policy actions made in this body. Reverend Maupin asked that the Committee not say that Republicans do not hate Latinos, and then create judge and jury situations about Latino leaders when they object.
Reverend Maupin said, referring to the Rosa Parks assembly, that he has never heard of a situation where black students were the only persons invited to participate in an assembly, that the Committee has not proven that, but continues to make accusations as though that did take place.
Mr. Gallardo thanked Reverend Maupin for speaking.
Reverend Maupin said that any party that would vote to deny the rights to African-Americans in every state in the country is capable of anything, including racist legislation against people who have immigrant status in this country. Reverend Maupin said the Republicans have become the Southern Democrats of today.
Robert Reveles, representing
self, said he is a resident of Gold Canyon. He said he appreciates the
Committee trying to resolve a problem, and he is trying to find out what the
problem is. He said he fully supports the idea of keeping kids involved in the
Mr. Reveles said he participated in a press conference at the State Capitol about two weeks ago urging students to stay in school. He said he is bothered by what he has heard that almost amounts to pre-censorship of speech, and said he is a free speech advocate. He said he is one of the organizers of the March 24 march and is the president of We Are America that organized what is universally accepted as an historic event. Mr. Reveles said in the context of what was happening last month and this month, that inviting a person like Delores Huerta to speak was understandable.
Manuel de J. Hernandez,
representing self, said he is a professor of Chicano literature.
Mr. Hernandez said he was a member of MECHA. Mr. Hernandez said the majority of the people today are objecting to a speech, specifically to hyperbole. He said that the English and Spanish people who marched supported Senator John McCain and Senator Teddy Kennedy. He noted that there has not been a Hispanic Latino Republican student present to speak today.
Richard Studwell, representing self, said he is the parent of a Tucson High student. He said what is at issue at Tucson High is more than a few words at one student assembly. He said there is a course at Tucson High called U.S. History for junior students. He said the course is along the lines of indoctrination, generates negative feelings, and someone is always oppressed by the United States government. He said this is the type of thing that is inciting problems in the school.
Mr. Allen said one of the answers received from a questionaire sent out by Mr. Paton was that they did not want to stop the speech because they feared the students would riot. Mr. Allen asked if Mr. Studwell believes that type of attitude contributes to the atmosphere they are talking about.
Mr. Studwell said he does not know.
Mr. Allen asked Mr. Studwell if the Committee could have a copy of what Mr. Studwell read from, and Mr. Studwell replied yes.
Person recognized who did not speak: John A. Ward, representing self.
Gloria Copeland, representing self, said she has listened to the debate as to whether the Latino kids should or should not have walked out. She said many of those kids did not walk out because of immigration or Cesar Chavez, but because of being uneducated, mis-educated, abuses of discipline, etc. She said there is a problem at TUSD with racism toward Latinos and African-Americans, and Mr. Pfeuffer has tried to address this issue.
Debbie Campos Fleenor, representing self, said she is Mexican, and she is a Republican Latino. She said she believes in free speech, and she believes in people’s diverse values and beliefs.
Mary Terry Schlitz, representing self, said she has been an advocate for public school education for a long time and has been actively involved with TUSD for about 20 years. She said racism is very real in the school district, and obviously, the $64 million in desegregation dollars is not taking care of the problem. She said she appreciates the work of this Committee.
Mr. Paton said there were two things he witnessed in the last two weeks that were very disturbing to him: listening to the comments of Dolores Huerta, and watching a group of people burn the Mexican flag in Tucson.
Mr. Gallardo said that the issues discussed today need to be dealt with at the local level by school boards. He said he thinks the school administrators took the proper steps needed in terms of encouraging students to stay in school with respect to the marches.
Chairman Allen said one of the key statements and what brought us here is that in one or two years these people will be voting. He said he thinks this school district is going to take every opportunity to make sure that they vote correctly. That is what the speech was about. He said this school district has decided that indoctrinating these children is one of their major goals besides educating them. He said he did not have that opinion when this hearing started, but this particular school district has one of the highest per capita spending on education in the state. He said the culture that seems to be festering in this school district is contrary to the education goals of the state. He said it will be a real test for this state on whether “we” can reel-in this school district.
Mr. Allen said he came to the meeting thinking it was an investigation of an unfortunate incident with one speaker, and a movement that got out of control with the student population, and has come away, instead, with the idea that there is a culture of instigation through the administration and the educators of this school system that the public will not tolerate. He said it is a school board issue, but when the school board does not seem to be willing to reel-in this problem, it becomes the Legislature’s problem. He said there will be a summer to see what the school board does before the Legislature comes back and has time to start new legislation and see what should be done. He said the Findings of the Committee will reflect his attitude towards what he has learned today.
Mr. Murphy said his children are Latino and he cannot describe how highly insulting and inexcusable he finds that his tax dollars were used for “her” to stand up in front of a group of students and say “that I hate my children.” He said what is worse is that the principal and the district are apparently lukewarm in denouncing that kind of hate speech, and apparently up to this point have failed to provide any speaker to balance that out. Mr. Murphy said he is concerned that TUSD seems to have a pattern of allowing hate speeches to be made on campuses subsidized by taxpayers.
Without objection, the meeting adjourned at 5:48 p.m.
Yvette O’Connor, Committee Secretary
April 20, 2006
(Original minutes, attachments and tape are on file in the Office of the Chief Clerk.)
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House Select Committee on Government
Operations, Performance and Waste
April 20, 2006
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