5 Questions With Lupe Carrasco Cardona

5 Questions With Lupe Carrasco Cardona

A TeleJaguar Exclusive


Chances are if you are living in the state of California and fighting the good fight anywhere near the city of Los Angeles there is a strong possibility the event or committee was organized or at the very least is being co chaired by the great Lupe Carrasco Cardona. Organizer, educator, curriculum developer, writer, speaker, chair, co chair, costume designer, puppeteer, hashtag strategist there really is not much that Carrasco Cardona cannot or does not do in service of the movement. What she does she does for the community.

Recently our team was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask Lupe Carrasco Cardona a few questions. Her answers exceeded our already high expectations.

1) Can you give our readers a brief history of the Association of Raza Educators, how and why it formed and what the organization is doing today? 

ARE was founded by members of Unión del Barrio in the spring of 1994, and its first core membership was made up of teachers from the San Diego area. What “sparked” ARE to life was the passage into law of Proposition 187, a ballot initiative designed to deny so-called “illegal immigrants” social services, health care, and public education.  

A.R.E is organized under five basic objectives and principles:
1. To promote critical pedagogy as the principle means of addressing the question of how to teach our children;
2. Struggle for democratic education, where the parents and community have the same rights as teachers, counselors, and administrators in the education of their children;
3. Promote community activism among teachers;
4. Nurture student activism and develop student activists;
5. Struggle to reclaim spaces in the institution (i.e. schools) for progressive education and to develop politically active teachers. 
Today ARE has a chapter in Los Angeles and I am the chair of the Praxis committee.  There is a chapter in Sacramento and a new one forming in the Santa Rosa area of Northern California. The Association of Raza Educators  (A.R.E) is a group of public school educators, university professors, students, and community allies committed to using education as a tool for the liberation of our community.  We do this by organizing and mobilizing teachers, developing curriculum, and working with community organizations to ignite change. We believe that education is the first step in creating consciousness that leads to action.  In these turbulent times, we know that its just not enough to teach about social justice, we have to practice social justice in every facet our lives.  

2)You were part of a historic writing team assembled to draft a statewide ethnic studies curriculum. Can you speak to that experience and tell us a little bit about the curriculum? 

The process was painful and simultaneously powerful.  There were amazing Ethnic Studies activist scholars from throughout the state of California that were convened by the California Department of Education to serve as the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Advisory Committee.  I was one of 18 chosen to help advise and edit curriculum that was written by ES curriculum scholars.  The core of the curriculum was good and together we chiseled and molded it until it was better but still incomplete.  We asked for more time to reconvene and continue the work of editing it until it reached a more “model-like” state.  We were consistently met with the response that AB2016 did not afford the budget or the timeline to be able to do so.  Nonetheless, when conservative elements partially read sections of the curriculum and found points of disagreement, they began a spree of public comments that were mostly computer form generated.  Ultimately, those public comments led to additional legislation being passed that pushed the deadline to have the ES model curriculum approved by a full year.  Even AB 331, the ES graduation requirement legislation, was pushed back by one year to be voted on by the Senate and to be signed by the governor. Additionally, there was funding extended to WestEd to conduct focus groups by ES and non-ES teachers on Ethnic Studies.  It is frustrating to see posts about the ES model curriculum being improved by the CDE and we have not as the ESMCAC been included in the process nor have we been invited to give input.  Additionally, the CDE is misleading the public about the intentions and quality of the ES model curriculum.  Ethnic Studies scholars across the state of California and beyond have defined the discipline of Ethnic Studies and the people “improving” the curriculum most certainly do not have the educational expertise to make any edits.

  • 2010 – Arizona banned the Tucson School District Mexican American Studies courses of the Ethnic Studies Program with the passage of HB 2281; it led to resistance and inspiration
  • 2011 – The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies: A Research Review by Dr. Christine Sleeter was published by the National Educational Association
  • 2014 – Former CA Assemblyman Luis Alejo introduced an Ethnic Studies bill for K-12
  • 2014 – CA communities began to pass High School Ethnic Studies Course Requirement Resolutions
  • 2016 – The Causal Effects of Cultural Relevance: Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum, a research study from Stanford University supported Ethnic Studies 
  • 2016 – Governor Brown signed AB 2016 (Alejo Bill)  with 84% CA Legislators voting in favor; the bill led to the making of the non-mandated CA Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum for high schools
  • 2016 – over 25 districts passed Ethnic Studies resolutions
  • 2017 – Arizona judge declared the ban on Ethnic Studies in TUSD unconstitutional in December
  • 2017 – Oregon passed Ethnic Studies legislation
  • Nov 2018 – Instructional Quality Commission selected 18 Ethnic Studies educators to serve on the Advisory Committee (out of about 130 applications)
  • 2019 – Vermont passed Ethnic Studies legislation
  • Jan 2019 – State Board of Education appointed the Advisory Committee members
  • Feb 2019 – Department of Education presented an initial draft of the curriculum to the Advisory Committee, that focused on Native American, Chicana/o Latina/o, African American, and Asian American groups
  • Feb to April 2019 – Advisory Committee met for only 3 sessions (6 meetings); among the public comments presented to the Advisory Committee were from mainly Pacific Islander, Native American, Korean American, Hmong American & Arab American groups
  • April 2019 – Advisory Committee requested to extend their commitment to work on the curriculum but because of limited resources (i.e., time, writers, page limit, and travel finances) members were discharged in April as scheduled
  • May 2019 – The Instructional Quality Commission reviewed and APPROVED the CA Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum draft for public comment
  • June to Aug 15, 2019 – The Department of Education posted the draft online for public comments
  • July 29, 2019 – CA Legislative Jewish Caucus, including Chair Senator Ben Allen, signed a letter of accusations and complaints about the Draft to the Instructional Quality Commission; Allen also became a member of the Instructional Quality Commission sometime after June 4
  • July 30, 2019 – Start of negative press and misinformation about the Draft and Advisory Committee members
  • August 2019 – Members who served on the Advisory Committee understood the concerns and agreed that some edits needed to be made to the Draft but were no longer in the position to aid with editing
  • August 2019 – Members who served on the Advisory Committee received hate messages at work
  • August 14, 2019 – At a press conference, State Superintendent Thurmond said “there was no intentional omission of Jewish experience” and proposed to make the curriculum inclusive of European American groups; some CA legislators stated that the CA Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum needed to include Jewish American and European immigrant group histories
  • August 14, 2019 – Council of Ethnic Studies wrote to the State Superintendent and the President of the Board of Education confirming that the discipline of Ethnic Studies had always centered on the studies of people of color
  • August 18, 2019 – Ethnic Studies Researcher Christine Sleeter, who was cited in AB 2016, wrote to State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, to not eliminate the draft (make some edits), keep the Ethnic Studies framework, and focus on Ethnic Studies as defined by the Council for Ethnic Studies
  • August 2019 – Members who served on the Advisory Committee and other college faculty appeared on the radio to defend Ethnic Studies
  • September 2019 – Over 55 organizations with thousands of voters joined to support the draft with some edits
  • September 12, 2019 – CA Legislature approved AB114,which delayed the ESMC completion date by one year, the new completion date is March 2021
  • September 13, 2019 – The San Francisco State University Black Student Union / Third World Liberation Front Student Strike Veterans of 1968 joined Save CA Ethnic Studies
  • September 16, 2019 – State Superintendent announced a new path to revise and improve the ESMC
  • September 19-20, 2019 – Instructional Quality Commission took no vote on ESMC and heard public comments, the majority of which were in support of the model curriculum

3) Like anything of any value some people in power have put roadblocks in the way of the implementation of the curriculum. In response you began a photo campaign called #IamEthnicStudies. The outpowering was tremendous. Can you speak to why ethnic studies means so much to our community? 

Ethnic Studies means so much to people because often times it is the first time they see themselves in the curriculum.  Many students have no idea where they came from, their ancestor’s accomplishments, the actual circumstances that led to the socio-economic and politico-cultural realities of their existence.  Ethnic Studies helps to give names to feelings and give folks a purpose for continue on their path of education and growth.  Ethnic Studies connects the past to the present and the future and gives us hope that positive transformation is real and possible.  It teaches us that we are greater together than as individuals.  This holds true across Ethnic groups. ES shows us that the four racialized ethnic groups have so much more in common and benefit from a collaboration to seek justice and change in the world.  People who have experienced the power of Ethnic Studies will defend it for the next generations.

4) In addition to your tremendous work as an educator, a writer and an organizer you are also co-chair of the Chicano 50th Moratorium Committee. Why is the moratorium still so signifigant today and what can our readers do to get involved?

The Chicano Moratorium is part of our collective history.  That history belongs to all of us.  Furthermore, the struggles of 1970 unfortunately are still real and persistent today.  The threat of war due to US imperialism plagues the world and our communities who are sought after to be recruited to fight the US’s dirty wars for capitalistic gain.  The principles of unity of the 50th Chicano Moratorium really speak to the why of significance today.  Learning from the past we resolve to unite with: women, African Americans, indigenous/Natives, Asians, LGBTQ, the youth, our elders, veterans, labor unions, refugees, immigrants, migrants, the disabled, and all other oppressed peoples. We will correctly use the original demands of the first moratoriums, and expand our demands based on currents ones. These demands include: self-determination; the liberation of women; ending Chicano military drafting into wars like Vietnam; pro-peace; stopping U.S. military intervention; ending racism; ending police killings/crimes; proper access to bilingual and quality public education; good jobs; equality for all; access to health care; benefits for veterans and the elderly; housing; political representation; legalization for all; fair and humane immigration; stopping Trump’s administration/policies; environmental justice (Exide); solidarity with all oppressed nations of the world; and ending white supremacy, and privatization of public social services.

5)What, where and when is Factzlan? 

We are in Factzlan. Factzlan is as ancient as human existence in these lands.  Factzlan respects and recognizes the original custodians of these lands. Factzlan does not ascribe to uber-nationalistic rhetoric that pins gente born under one flag against gente of another. Factzlan recognizes that our gente is black and/or brown and/or a lighter shade of brown; that we existed before imperial borders and the papul bulls; that we deserve to remain here in peace and free from oppression and aggression.  Factzlan knows that we are not free until WE ARE ALL free and that in order to make that a reality we must fight the colonizers who are still operating under the colonial system and not fight one another.  Factzlan does not ally with the oppressors ever, even when the oppressor looks like us, comes from our community and has bought into the colonizers’ dominant bullshit narrative. Our brothers and sisters and primxs are other folks breaking free from the chains of slavery and colonization.  We are in solidarity with all oppressed people of the world.  

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