Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Federal judge says Arizona's ban on Mexican American studies is racially discriminatory

Also from yesterday PM in the Los Angeles Times.  Readers, see my earlier posts, including this one where you can read the court decision on your own.

-Angela

Federal judge says Arizona's ban on Mexican American studies is racially discriminatory

A federal judge in Arizona ruled Tuesday that the state’s controversial ban on ethnic studies was motivated by racial discrimination.

The decision from Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a federal appeals court judge sitting in the district court in Arizona, came in a lawsuit brought by students against the state's top education official. It is a major blow to a state law that resulted in the closure of a Mexican American studies program in Tucson.
Proponents of the program have argued that the 2010 law, which in part banned courses designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group, was effectively racist and targeted Mexican Americans and other minority groups.
Tucson dropped its Mexican American studies program in 2012 under threat of losing state funding.


“Both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus,” Tashima wrote in his decision Tuesday. He said that the law violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution by discriminating against Latinos. He also said the law violated students’ 1st Amendment “right to receive information and ideas.”
Arizona’s law in general banned classes promoting “resentment toward a race or class of people.”
It was all the more controversial because it was passed the same year the state passed the widely protested SB 1070 law, which required police to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained when there was “reasonable suspicion” they were not in the U.S. legally.
In his decision, Tashima railed against former Arizona state superintendents of public instruction who pushed to pass the ban, John Huppenthal and Tom Horne.


“Defendants were pursuing these discriminatory ends in order to make political gains. Horne and Huppenthal repeatedly pointed to their efforts against the [Mexican American studies] program in their respective 2011 political campaigns, including in speeches and radio advertisements. The issue was a political boon to the candidates,” the judge wrote.
“Both individuals conveyed an unfounded, yet uniform, distrust of … teachers’ and students’ accounts of what was taking place in [Mexican American studies] classrooms,” he wrote.
A former teacher in the Tucson program, Curtis Acosta, reacted to the ruling on Twitter.
“I just received word from our attorney, Richard Martinez, that we won our case against the state of Arizona. ¡Justicia!” he tweeted.
In an interview, Martinez said he was confident that the ruling meant the law would be dismantled. Martinez said the judge would hold a hearing in the next three weeks to determine how the ruling should be enforced.
Anita Fernandez, director of the Xicanx Institute for Teaching and Organizing in Tucson, said Tuesday that she was celebrating the decision.
“We’re very excited by the ruling, specifically that the court was convinced by testimony and evidence [that it] was racial discrimination,” Fernandez said. “Now it is up to the school district to decide what they are going to do.”

Federal Judge Finds Racism Behind Arizona Law Banning Ethnic Studies

Another post on the TUSD MAS court case from NPR last night. Glad to see that other states are making significant advances in Ethnic Studies curricula, too.  It's such a positive, beautiful, people's movement and the battle in Arizona deserves full credit for reigniting it.  Our ancestors, too!

On Twitter, you can follow a lot of this at #MASTrial

You can read the decision here.

-Angela

Federal Judge Finds Racism Behind Arizona Law Banning Ethnic Studies

An Arizona law banning ethnic studies violated students' constitutional rights, a federal judge said Tuesday. His ruling made clear that the state showed discriminatory intent when it essentially shut down a Mexican-American Studies program at Tucson Unified School District.
"Both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus," Federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima said in the ruling.
With this news, a portion of the law, prohibiting classes designed for students of certain ethnic groups, has been struck down, but the federal judge has yet to issue a final judgment and redress for the violation.

Despite this decade-long debate in Arizona, ethnic studies programs have grown in popularity throughout the country.

Ethnic Studies: A Movement Born Of A Ban

student girl looking at book and seeing reflection of herself
LA Johnson/NPR 
 
In Jr Arimboanga's ninth-grade classroom, students learn about critical consciousness: how to read the word, but also the world. It's a concept popularized by a Brazilian educational theorist named Paulo Freire in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
The class is ethnic studies. It's part of an effort by San Francisco educators like Arimboanga to teach courses centered on the perspectives of historically marginalized groups. Just last year, California passed a law mandating a model ethnic studies curriculum.
Sometimes called multicultural education or culturally responsive teaching (though there are subtle differences among the three), ethnic studies has been expanding on the west coast and in pockets across the country. San Francisco's curriculum is "designed to give high school students an introduction to the experiences of ethnic communities that are rarely represented in textbooks," according to the school district's website.




Teachers of ethnic studies argue that these courses give students a pathway to break the cycles of poverty, violence, and incarceration that so many communities of color face.
"Ethnic studies works," says Artnelson Concordia, a veteran teacher who is helping to develop the San Francisco curriculum. He wants students to see that "all of their experiences can be connected to larger issues."
"So by the end of the school year, they're seeing themselves as makers of history," Concordia says.
Movements and Counter-Movements
Ethnic studies has "gained momentum, frankly, with the election of Donald Trump," says Ravi Perry, president of the National Association for Ethnic Studies. This summer, Oregon set a timetable for the adoption of K-12 ethnic studies standards. Efforts to introduce statewide legislation are also ongoing in Kansas and starting this year, Indiana high schools will be required to offer ethnic and racial studies as an elective course. States with large indigenous populations — like Montana and Alaska — have already written standards for culturally responsive teaching.
"We have an obligation to ensure their heritage is aptly reflected in how we talk about America," Perry says. "This is not about promoting an individual agenda. It's about understanding the importance of community solidarity."
Other movements are concentrated at the district level. Seattle has passed a resolution, based on recommendations from the NAACP. Students in Providence, R.I., have successfully lobbied for a pilot of the ethnic studies curriculum. Albuquerque, N.M., has launched ethnic studies courses in all of its high schools.
Though the start of the ethnic studies movement can be traced to the early 1900s, it really kicked off in the 1960s at colleges and universities. In the past decade, the growth has accelerated in K-12 schools, partly in response to an Arizona law that banned the curriculum.
There, Republican lawmakers were specifically targeting a Mexican-American studies program at Tucson High School — where minority enrollment is 88 percent. The Republicans who wrote the legislation, Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, claimed the classes were stoking racial tensions and "radicalizing students." They pointed to the course materials — among them, Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Rodolfo Acuña's Occupied America — as well as the class decor, which included a poster of Che Guevara.
In 2010, Horne and Huppenthal passed HB 2281, prohibiting classes and materials that "promote the overthrow of the U.S. government," "resentment toward a race or class or people," or "ethnic solidarity." (This happened soon after the passage of SB 1070, which gave local police the authority to question a person's citizenship.)
There were other ethnic studies courses in Tucson that were not touched by the bill, Huppenthal says. He mentions African-American studies, for one. But the teachers of Mexican-American studies classes at Tucson High, Huppenthal says, were "indoctrinating students."
"They were doing a very simplistic application of Karl Marx's dictum: All of history is the struggle between the 'oppressor' and the 'oppressed,' " Huppenthal says. "And they were going to identify whites as oppressors and Hispanics as the oppressed."
Myths and Truths
"One of the things you would hear was that our classes were hateful. That we were teaching resentment," says Curtis Acosta, who piloted one of the Mexican-American studies classes that sparked the controversy in Arizona. "That's exactly the antithesis of what you would see."
Acosta taught for 18 years in Tucson Unified School District. On a typical day in his Chicano literature class, Acosta says, you'd find students sitting at tables "doing really controversial things like reading and writing well."
Each morning, his class would begin with an affirmation, a Mayan precept called In Lak Ech, which translates to "You are another me." Students would recite in Spanish and English part of the poem by Luís Valdez:
Tú eres mi otro yo. You are my other me. Si te hago daño a ti, If I do harm to you, Me hago daño a mi mismo. I do harm to myself. Si te amo y respeto, If I love and respect you, Me amo y respeto yo. I love and respect myself.
"Students were sharing and taking risks and that didn't happen by accident," Acosta says. "It was real intentional."
Alexei Marquez can attest to that. She was in Acosta's class the first year it was offered. Up until then, she had been a dutiful, if disengaged, student. "I learned from an early age to play the game as it was," Marquez says.




When she took Acosta's class, it was the first time she'd connected to literature on a personal level. She fell in love with The Devil's Highway by Luís Alberto Urrea. "I can't even tell you what I read in AP English," Marquez says.
She is starting her PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Arizona. And she is not a lone success story. While 48 percent of Latino students were dropping out of high school, 100 percent of those students enrolled in Mexican-American studies classes at Tucson High were graduating, and 85 percent were going on to college.
Impact
"The research says, plainly, that this stuff works," explains Christine Sleeter, a California State University professor and ethnic studies expert. In 2010, the National Education Association asked her to review the academic and social impact of ethnic studies.
A few things happen when students take courses that connect with their lived experience, Sleeter says. Engagement increases, as do literacy skills, overall achievement and attitudes toward learning.
"As students of color proceed through the school system, research finds that the overwhelming dominance of Euro-American perspectives leads many such students to disengage from academic learning," Sleeter writes in the NEA report. "Ethnic studies curricula exist in part because students of color have demanded an education that is relevant, meaningful, and affirming of their identities."
Something else happens in these classes: students develop "a sense of agency," Sleeter writes. So they aren't just learning about history, they're engaging with it and shaping it — reading the word and the world.
A Stanford study finds similar outcomes — particularly for high school students at risk of dropping out. Taking a course which examines "the roles of race, nationality and culture on identity and experience" improved not only academic performance, but also attendance.
"Kids react when the curriculum isn't speaking to their experiences or to the things that really matter to them," Sleeter says. "They just get bored and they either intellectually drop out or physically drop out."
Waiting on a Verdict
A federal judge will rule any day now on whether GOP state officials violated students' constitutional rights when they all but abolished Tucson High's Mexican-American studies program.
For the main players, this trial has stirred up a lot of old emotions.
Huppenthal has held steady, maintaining that ethnic studies racializes the classroom. "To teach kids that they're victims and they can't get ahead in life because somebody's holding them down, I think it's a mistake," he says.
But that argument — that the world is a meritocracy, free of systemic racism and colonialism — is detrimental to students of color, according to a new study in the Child Development journal.
Acosta, who lost his class to the ban, has been helping other districts integrate ethnic studies into their schools. No matter what happens, he says, the legacy of Tucson's Mexican-American studies program remains.
"As emotional as this has been, what's really fascinating and affirming is that ethnic studies is now something seen," Acosta says. "And can be used to resuscitate hope."

Major Victory in the MAS Arizona Court Battle: You can read the Judge's Decision Here

Major Victory in the MAS Arizona Court Battle: You can read 
the Judge's Decision Here

by

Angela Valenzuela
August 22, 2017*



We just made history again.  
No small feat.  I'm in tears. 
Victory for the plaintiffs in Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Arizona Mexican American 
Studies (MAS) Court Case!  Judge Wallace Tashima ruled on their behalves and it feels like 
vindication and justice. You can read Judge Tashima's Decision here.
Judge Wallace Tashima

This is a landmark, precedent-setting, victory for Ethnic Studies, public education, and civil rights. Kudos to Arizona Civil Rights attorney, Richard Martinez, who kept his eyes on the prize for so many years as the case was in process.  It was a heavy lift.  Gracias, Richard, for your kindness, friendship, and a great sense of humor that always lightened matters, as dead-serious as they were.
 Many thanks to two former, and one current, University of Texas at Austin Education Policy and Planning, as well as Cultural Studies in Education, graduate students for helping me out at the time with the data collection and analysis. They are Dr. José García, Ashlee Peña, Olivia Johnson.  

I also give thanks to my students in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder whose major course assignment this past summer was on the court case itself.  And to our UT students and faculty, too, who expressed concern and support throughout.  And to our National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas-Foco scholars, the community and moral backbone of the REST Coalition to which we belonged. We all remain mutual supporters and great friends—at least as far as I am concerned. :-)
HABLA, the Raza Rountable, are always present and informed. And to Nuestro Grupo, our community-based organization that carries out the activities of Academia Cuauhtli, our cherished Saturday school at the Mexican American Culture Center in partnership with the Austin Independent School District and the City of Austin.  It humbles me deeply to have our escuelita, our school, as part of the record in this historic milestone for all of our communities, and community-based educational efforts.

My husband, Dr. Emilio Zamora, and my beautiful family also deserve a "high five" or two for their confidence in me and their loving support over the many, many months of this fight, this lucha, with the state of Arizona.  At the end of the day, it was the "arbiters of empire," of this racist state—specifically Tom Horne and John Huppenthal—that had actually picked this fight to serve their own ends at the community's expense.  No surprise, huh?

Beware the racist bullies that assume leadership—not because they really want to lead people earnestly.  They have other motivations instead that have gotten us to where we are now with the Alt-Right, neo-Nazi, KKK, neo-Confederate attempted seizures of presence, voice, and power.  What they never understand is that their own hubris is always their downfall.  It gets them every time.  Well, almost...  

I am dead-serious here.  Boy, could each of them have highly benefited from an Ethnic Studies or Women and Gender Studies set of courses, major, or minor in college!  Think about it.  A little bit of cultural literacy can go a long way.

How we struggle—hopefully, all with integrity, a good spirit and intention—matters every bit as much as what gets accomplished.  This case will be studied, analyzed, and theorized for years far into the future, no doubt.  My words are from the heart.  And my heart is in a very good place right now.

The team from New York, the Weil, Gotshal & Manges law firm, was amazing. It was an experience spending a fair amount of time in the “war room” with the many attorneys and their excellent staff.  Luna Barrington, you are the best!  Thank you for your hard work and commitment to this case.  And thanks to your colleagues in Weil, especially Steven Reiss, for taking this on pro bono because they grasped its importance.  Thanks, as well, to Dr. Bob Chang, Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at the Seattle University School of Law.

I loved the energy, passion, and synergy.    

How it all ended up taking form and getting executed was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
It’s also rather uncanny that the Judge’s decision came out on the day immediately following the solar eclipse, as well as contemporaneous with Trump’s visit to Phoenix.  The universe has something to tell us....

For the Mexica (Aztecs)—and perhaps other indigenous people—the August 21st eclipse of the sun signifies a re-birth, a new beginning. Hence, a cosmic coupling of the sun and the moon, "el sol y la luna," as they are affectionately termed in Spanish and widely recognized as powerful symbols in much indigenous art and iconography.  I see, and want to see, all of this as a new beginning.  From an opprobrious darkness into the light of a liberated educational praxis.  After all, this is a re-birth!
Renacimiento! Ometeotl!
  
As an insider to this case, as one of three expert witnesses (Drs. Nolan Cabrera & Stephen Pitti were the other two), I cannot express how happy I am for the TUSD- MAS teachers, students, parents, families, and community.  It shouldn’t be so damn hard to get a great, community-anchored, culturally relevant, social justice, college-preparatory education.

In any case, this is mostly their sacrifice and victory today!  I was nevertheless humbled and honored to have been chosen to accompany them on this long, legal, and political journey to claim their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and to set the record straight. I turn now to address them directly.
***
To our familia, friends, parents, and advocacy community in Tucson and Arizona, generally, Felicidades!  Congratulations!  

Thank you for your intelligence, passion, love, and vision to start an MAS program to begin with.  It quickly grew into a robust and highly successful Ethnic Studies program of all major ethnic and racial groups in TUSD in numerous schools at different grade levels and were inclusive of all groups.  And then when it was dismantled, you filed suit. Your children, parents, families, and communities then had to take it on the chin and it was brutal and traumatizing.  But you went the distance and carried yourselves with such poise and strength throughout—even if your own relations sometimes suffered, as a consequence.  
Such are the poisonous effects of discrimination and the abject denial of rights.
It’s time to heal and repair, to take a break, relieve your minds and re-connect to self, family, and community.  Once centered, next steps will become obvious. And do keep me posted!
For now, enjoy, celebrate, and cry.  Someday, Ethnic Studies will not only equate to "a good education," but also one of its core aspects of what it can and should be—and actually, what it should have been to begin with a long time ago.  That said, you have to start somewhere.  And this is an awesome, new beginning—not just for yourselves, but for our entire country!  
Muy bien hecho! Great job!  In deep admiration of all of you.  We love you so much!  Los queremos mucho!  Ha sido un honor muy grande para mi ser parte de esta historia tan importante y impresionante.  Muchísimas gracias!

Angela Valenzuela
*Edited 8.23.17




Judge: Racism behind Arizona ban on Mexican-American studies


Racism was behind an Arizona ban on ethnic studies that shuttered a popular Mexican-American Studies program, a federal judge said Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima found that the state enacted the ban with discriminatory intent.
He had previously upheld most of the law in a civil lawsuit filed by students in the Tucson Unified School District, but a federal appeals court, while upholding most of his ruling, sent the case back to trial to determine if the ban was enacted with racist intent.
The new trial was held in July.
The law prohibits courses that promote resentment toward a race or a class of people or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating people as individuals.
A portion of the law that banned courses designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group was struck down.
Tashima said in the ruling Tuesday that the state violated student's constitutional rights "because both enactment and enforcement were motivated by racial animus."
However, Tashima said he doesn't know a remedy for the violation and has not issued a final judgment.
Plaintiffs' attorneys hoped he would throw out the law, which was enacted in 2010, the same year Arizona approved its landmark immigration law known as SB1070.
Tucson Unified School District dismantled its program in 2012 to avoid losing state funding. The district has not said whether it would bring the program back if the law is thrown out.
Tom Horne, former state attorney general and former leader of Arizona's public schools, testified in July that he was troubled by what he described as radical instructors teaching students to be disruptive. But he insisted he targeted all ethnic studies programs equally.
Students in the Tucson district, which offered the Mexican-American courses, launched protests and sued.
Horne drafted the law as superintendent of public schools and later defended it as state attorney general.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Roberto Rodríguez: From the start, racists were there for Trump

Here is a cautionary piece by Dr. Roberto Cintli Rodriguez.  Yes, racists were there for Trump from the very beginning.  Let's do remember though that Trump lost the popular vote by millions and won the electoral college vote by a razor-thin margin of about 78,000 out of 14 million or so in three states—Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  His values are not those held by most Americans, thankfully.  

That said, to my many friends and family in Arizona, brace yourselves for Trump's visit there today.

-Angela

Roberto Rodríguez: From the start, racists were there for Trump

  • Updated
Roberto Rodriguez
First he came after the Mexicans, and you did not speak out.
Then he came after the Muslims, and you did not speak out.
Then he came for the blacks, and you still did not speak out.
Who can forget that when the president launched his campaign in 2016 he called Mexicans rapists and criminals? And who can forget that his calls for a wall to be built along the U.S.-Mexico border, with Mexico paying for it, would be what would galvanize his base, especially at his campaign rallies where such chants would come to dominate his events that resembled more like pogroms than rallies?
I remember thinking at the time that if this flamboyant presidential contender had said similar things about any other group in the country, his campaign would have been doomed from the start. There was no huge outcry by this nation’s body politic, and instead, the mainstream media flocked to him for “exclusive” interviews or special guest appearances for this new celebrity candidate.
By the time he staged a campaign rally at the Tucson Convention Center in March of 2016, there was no ambiguity about his politics. As such, there was a huge protest. I was present, and as I filmed the standoff between his supporters and the counter-protesters, I found myself near the entrance. Out of the blue, a Secret Service agent demanded to know if I was going inside or staying outside? I ended up inside. And what I saw and filmed in there radically changed how I saw his campaign.
What I learned there was more about his supporters than about him. To put it mildly, it was white racial supremacists unleashed; an orgy of extreme hate.
Before the keynote speech, the audience was egged on, first by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and then Gov. Jan Brewer. The atmosphere was viciously anti-Mexican. Beyond the periodic “build the wall” chants, and beyond the anti-Mexico rhetoric, the real ugliness was that this unleashed hate was directed at Mexicans themselves.
Bedlam could not begin to describe the frenzy. All during this time, the audience verbally attacked people of color over and over. But let me rephrase that. During this hate spectacle, people of color stood up. I first saw two courageous black women take on all comers, and they were taunted and harangued in a most vicious way. And then for the rest of the event, it was pretty much Mexicans/Native peoples, that did the same.
The bravery I witnessed in the face of white racial supremacists was inspiring.
Outside, it was a whole different scene, but the counter-protesters were just as defiant. For days after that, many people kept telling me that I didn’t really see what I saw. They kept insisting that both sides were identical. In fact, some continue to tell me that they respect the president and his supporters because at least they are out front with their views. I can tell you that there is zero to respect about them, whether they are hiding or upfront about their racial supremacist views. If anything, they are basically preaching the message of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
As I saw the rallies in Charlottesville, it was the same hate I witnessed firsthand in Tucson.
The one thing I will agree with is the idea that the president is not actually hypocritical; from day one, he told the world precisely what he stood for; it is just that not everyone was listening.
And now he’s coming to Phoenix — to pardon Arpaio, maybe? Lord help America.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

May Today's Solar Eclipse Dismantle our Egos at least for a Moment


In preparation for today's solar eclipse, consider praying and meditating at 3PM your time or throughout the day.  In anticipation, also consider listening to this quick five-minute interview with  renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson who speaks to its primary importance of "dismantling our egos" as follows:
"What I want to assert is, if you look at the source of most conflict in the world, somewhere you part the curtains there's an ego manifesting itself. It could be ego of the individual. It could be ego of family, of culture. This ego has no place in the universe. And I don't have to tell you that, it just happens that way. 

You learn that Earth is not the center of all motion and neither is the sun and neither is our galaxy. So my point is, the cosmic perspective systematically dismantles your ego, on every level. And you look at earth from space and it doesn't have color-coded boundaries, where the countries were shown in your schoolroom globe in social studies class. It makes you do a double-take on all the inane conduct that humans have expressed, simply as a product of thinking they were more special than others."
This is the very same wisdom of our indigenous elders.  The takeaway should not be that we are "nothing" or "nobodies" before this vast and expansive universe, but rather that we should ponder just how special we are as humans for being the same despite powerful social constructions like race, nations, and nationalities that often divide us.  Plus, it's potentially awe-inspiring to connect to the very cosmos to which our ancient forebears were so powerfully attuned. 
If but for a moment, may tomorrow's eclipse of the sun dismantle our egos so that we can rebuild it with respect, love, and compassion both for our fellow human beings and Mother Earth, La Madre Tierra, herself. 
Angela Valenzuela
c/s


·       LISTEN LIVE

In his new book, Neil deGrasse Tyson encourages us all to stay curious

by Lori Galarreta and A Martínez | Take Two® May 08 2017

Cover art of Neil deGrasse Tyson's new book, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry."W. W. NORTON & COMPANY

Space and the world above us are fascinating, but let's face it, sometimes concepts like quantum entanglement or binary pulsars can be a little... intimidating. 
Fear not, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has you covered. 
In his new book, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry," Tyson brings the heavens down to earth by deconstructing complicated concepts for the laymen.
His only requirement for reading? Curiosity.
HOW DO THE LAYMEN BENEFIT FROM KNOWING ABOUT ASTROPHYSICAL CONCEPTS?
"This is an offering. If you are curious, this is for you. And even if you're not curious, it might make you curious, because maybe you forgot what it is to be curious. Because of the interstitial sort of mind blowing things, I'll just give you an example. This is in the last of the dozen chapters:
Do you know that there are more molecules of water in a glass of water than there are glasses of water in all the world's oceans? What that means is, that there are enough molecules in your glass to scatter into every other glass of water that could be drawn from the world's water supply. 
So, if you drink that water and then it passes through your body as you would expect. Through sweat, through pee, through whatever other way, then water that is passed through your kidneys can be consumed by others and is consumed by others. And if you wait enough time, every glass of water you drink has molecules that pass through the kidneys of Abraham Lincoln, of Socrates, of Jesus. 
And this is a connectivity so you learn how small we are and how big the universe is but you also learn how connected we are to this great unfolding of cosmic events."
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE ROLE OF 'SCIENCE COMMUNICATOR' TO YOU?
"I don't wake up in the morning saying, 'How can I bring the universe down to earth today?' That is a non-thought. What does happen is, I get asked. And I'm a servant of this curiosity and I say to myself in some capacity, in some ways,  that if I'm good at it I would be irresponsible if I did not offer myself to the curiosity of those who express it.
The broader picture is science literacy in general, which really matters if you want an informed democracy where decisions we have to make in the 21st century, pivot on whether or not you know the science that relates to the legislation you want to vote for or put into play.
If you want an informed democracy rather than one that will unravel itself then you would want lawmakers to have sufficient science literacy so that they could make as informed decisions they can in the interest of this republic. 
IF WE ALL HAD A BETTER HANDLE ON SCIENCE AND WE ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD SOME OF THESE THEORIES, HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE A BETTER PLACE?
"It's the cosmic perspective that brings a better world. I don't mean to sound all kumbaya and hold hands and go up into space– I don't mean to come across that way, even if it sounds that way.
What I want to assert is, if you look at the source of most conflict in the world, somewhere you part the curtains there's an ego manifesting itself. It could be ego of the individual. It could be ego of family, of culture. This ego has no place in the universe. And I don't have to tell you that, it just happens that way. 
You learn that Earth is not the center of all motion and neither is the sun and neither is our galaxy. So my point is, the cosmic perspective systematically dismantles your ego, on every level. And you look at earth from space and it doesn't have color-coded boundaries, where the countries were shown in your schoolroom globe in social studies class. It makes you do a double-take on all the inane conduct that humans have expressed, simply as a product of thinking they were more special than others. 
To listen to the full segment, click the blue play button above.  © 2017 Southern California Public Radio