(PNS reporting from TUCSON) Even as John Huppenthal takes a breather now that teaching the alphabet is banned in Tucson schools, his Taliban-style campaign of education purification continues in the hands of allies.
“We won’t stop with just readin’ and writin’,” they say, “so ‘rithmetic is next!”
Superintendent of Public Instruction Huppenthal told PNS why he is terrified by brown-skinned children who read books and ask preguntas:
No more A-B-C’s, Pancho. Listen, we have no problem with students who show up, smile and nod their heads as we dump hogwash into their little brains. It becomes problematic when the little brown ones start asking for authentic book-learnin’ and actual teaching. We’re talking about a radical context here when teaching cholos-in-waiting how to read! No, sir, we cannot have that. We’re banning the alphabet and going to concentrate solely on janitorial studies and the Pledge of Allegiance, Under God.
Supporters of the alphabet have maintained the state’s findings are “insanity personified.” They argue the alphabet is vital in teaching children how to read and function in society. Teachers say they’re insulted by the ruling and students say the alphabet helps them excel in their other mandated courses and in daily life.
“They’re scared. We have the right to learn the alphabet. We want an educational system where all letters are taught and not just the letters ‘K.’ Literate we stand, illiterate we fall,” one student said of the banning.
The issue came to a head this week when the Tucson Unified School Board, all dressed in white sheets, voted 4-1 to halt the use of the alphabet indefinitely. TUSD’s superintendent, John Pedicone, says teachers are already reverting to the core curriculum, which consists of staring at the wall, eating paste and learning how to mop a floor.
“We’re not done. Numbers matter and numbers are next,” Pedicone said. “They wanted to read and count too? We’re putting the brakes on that. We want only two things in Arizona schools: an illiterate student body, an innumerate student body and clean floors. Oh wait, that’s three things.”
S. J. Rivera is an indie Publisher/Author @ Broken Sword Publications
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