Landscape of Urban Education Lecture Series to Screen ‘Precious Knowledge’

The School of Education will screen the film “Precious Knowledge” as part of its Landscape of Urban Education series on Monday, April 2, at 4 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with cultural studies experts, including “Precious Knowledge” filmmaker Eren McGinnis, about the implications of banning ethnic and cultural studies in schools. This event is free and open to the public. The film is captioned and CART will be provided during the panel discussion.

“Precious Knowledge” documents the struggle of Arizona schools, teachers and students facing legislation that would ban ethnic studies from schools. Headed by anti-ethnic studies extremists in Arizona, the law sought to ban Tucson’s Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, which graduates 93 percent of its college-bound students. The film depicts how strongly some officials in Arizona believe in anti-immigrant sentiments.

In the moving and revelatory film, students and teachers fight for their right to have education that reflects different cultures—a battle that they ultimately lose. In January, the governing board of the Tucson Unified School District outlawed the MAS program in schools, and as School of Education professor Marcelle Haddix says, a ruling like this one should concern the entire country.

“I knew we had to bring ‘Precious Knowledge’ here because we have a very diverse student population,” Haddix says. “The notion of banning culturally relevant pedagogy is troubling, and all teachers, parents, administrators, students—anyone who has a stake in education—should be concerned about these issues. It can happen anywhere.”

After the screening, four other experts in cultural education will sit for a panel discussion with viewers; McGinnis; Lisa Patel Stevens, associate professor of teacher education and special education at Boston College; Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla, program director of Syracuse’s La Casita Cultural Center; and Bea Gonzàlez, dean of SU’s University College. Together, the film screening and the panel will begin a discussion of the serious consequences that could arise when cultural studies are forced out of schools, and what that means for ethnicity and identity of a diverse student population.