CREATED Apr 3, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - TUSD's Mexican-American studies program may be shut down, but the controversy remains alive and in the national spotlight. This time it's Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart taking a satirical stab at the story. Program supporters say it's funny because it's true, but at least one school district board member isn't laughing.
In the Monday night segment now posted online, Tucson Unified School District board member Michael Hicks shared his concerns over the now defunct ethnic studies program.
“My concern was a lot of the radical ideas they were teaching in these classes, telling these kids that this is their land, the whites took it over and the only way to get out from beneath the gringo, which is the white man, is by bloodshed,” Hicks told the interviewer, Al Madrigal.
Madrigal asked, “When you sat in on these classes, what types of--.” The clip shows Hicks interrupting, saying, “I chose not to go to any of their classes. Why even go? Why even go? I based my thoughts on hearsay from others so I based it off of those.”
That’s one of a number of lines and fumbles from Hicks providing laughs for the audience, but perhaps not for him.
9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen called Hicks Tuesday. He didn't want to talk, but referred Keen to a statement that read, "I went on this show to talk about the Mexican American Studies (MAS) classes. I was mislead by the ‘reporter’ and was told that they were interested in a real interview. It was nothing of the sort."
Hicks also wrote, "And for the record, they spliced my comments in several areas during this segment. I can assure you that my statements were taken out of context. Many of my answers were altered to suit their needs."
“Do you think that that may have happened?” Keen asked Tucson attorney Richard Martinez. “No, I think those words are entirely his,” he answered.
Martinez is representing a group of educators in a lawsuit to bring the program back. He watched the show Monday night. He says Hicks' words reveal the thinking of local and state education officials who wanted to end the program.
“It took off the veneer of legitimacy and you get to see how biased and how superficial the decision was,” Martinez said, referring to the decision to end the ethnic studies program. “What it really reflects is not a reasoned decision, but it reflects this notion of 'We just don't want them and we're getting rid of them.’”
Hicks also wrote in his statement: “What I find more troubling is that there are those who will believe that what they saw on the Daily Show is accurate and complete news. They will then most likely base their judgments on inaccurate information designed specifically to support the view of Daily Show producers.”
Keen asked Martinez, “Do you think people who watch that will walk away thinking that everything presented there was fact?” “They should,” he answered. “I think it was clear that his answers were factual. He didn't go in there to be a comedy act. He was there as a governing school board member. He was invited as a board member. He was invited to give real answers to real questions. I think you got was a glimmer into is into the mind, the soul of Michael Hicks.”
9 On Your Side also contacted the district, every board member, the state department of education and other Mexican-American studies supporters for comment. We also left messages for the teacher interviewed in the Daily Show piece, Curtis Acosta.
A TUSD representative wrote: "Michael Hicks is a [publicly]-elected official and was speaking as an individual. His comments do not represent the TUSD governing board or the school district." Board president Dr. Mark Stegeman echoed the sentiment.