The documentary “Precious Knowledge” interweaves the stories of students in the Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School. While 48 percent of Mexican American students currently drop out of high school, Tucson High’s Mexican American Studies Program has become a national model of educational success, with on average, 93% percent of enrolled students graduating from high school and 85 percent going on to attend college. The filmmakers spent an entire year in the classroom filming this innovative social justice curriculum, documenting the transformative impact on students who become engaged, informed, and active in their communities.”Precious Knowledge” is timely as the nation turns its focus toward a wave of anti-immigration legislation in Arizona, with other states planning to follow suit. Along with their harsh anti-immigrant stance, Arizona lawmakers recently passed a bill giving unilateral power to the State Superintendent to abolish Ethnic Studies classes. Precious Knowledge provides an insider’s perspective to a historic battle over civil rights as the student leaders in Tucson High fight to save their classes. The students are able to mobilize rapidly with texting, facebooking, optimism, and a megaphone.Mounting a public relations campaign to discredit the passionate students, lawmakers and politicians express concerned that Paulo Freire’s textbook, “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” teaches victimization and sedition, and they ask that the classroom’s Che Guevara posters be replaced with portraits of founding father Benjamin Franklin. Meanwhile, the students answer back by fighting for what they believe is the future of public education for the entire nation, especially as the Latino demographic continues to grow. “Precious Knowledge” dramatically illustrates what motivates high school teachers and students to form the front line of an epic civil rights battle.
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Tucson High School students and teachers form the front line of an epic civil rights battle to save their Mexican American Studies classes.
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