Two Arizona lawmakers set off charges of racism after one instructed the other to read a controversial letter on the state Senate floor last week during a debate over five immigration bills.
The letter from Tony Hill, who worked nine days as a substitute teacher in Glendale, said that Hispanic students “hate America” and only want to become “gang members and gangsters,” according to ABC News.
At first, the letter was suspected of being a hoax, after local reporters could not find anyone under the man’s name who had worked for any of the area school districts, and key details in the letter were contradicted by school officials.
School officials later released the name of the substitute teacher who emailed the letter.
“Most of the Hispanic students do not want to be educated but rather be gang members and gangsters,” State Sen. Lori Klein said, reading from the letter at the prompting of Senate President Russell Pearce.
“They hate America and are determined to reclaim this area for Mexico.”
“If we are able to remove the illegals out of our schools, the class sizes would be reduced and the students who wanted to learn would have a better chance to do so and become productive citizens,” the letter continued. “Thank you for standing up to this invasion.”
Tony Hill also claimed that Hispanic students refused to participate in a Mark Twain assignment and instead “threw the textbooks at each other.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard any floor speech similar to the one that was given out right now,” Democratic State Sen. Steve Gallardo told the Senate. Hispanic students “do not have dreams to be gang members, they do not want to be thugs or whatever we want to phrase it as. These are good kids.”
Members of the Hispanic caucus in the state have questioned the authenticity of the author.
KGUN 9 contacted all five school districts in Glendale and all said that Anthony or Tony Hill had never worked for them as a teacher or substitute teacher.
“The Glendale School District also stated it does not teach its 8th grade students about Mark Twain as Hill alluded to in his letter,” KGUN 9’s Steve Nuñez wrote.
“Not only does Senator Klein owe us all an apology and every student in the state of Arizona an apology, I think Russell Pearce has some questions to answer,” Gallardo said.
Pearce released a statement Tuesday, refusing to apologize or say if he agreed with the letter.
“On March 17, Sen. Lori Klein read on the Senate floor a letter written to me by a teacher in the West Valley,” Pearce’s statement began. “I am shocked that Members of the Minority are so quick to defend the actions of these troublemakers, and mock the frustration many teachers feel in bringing order to the classroom.”
“I’ve spoken with the teacher who wrote this letter. He stands by all he wrote. This is happening in our classrooms. The behavior by these students cannot and will not be condoned.”
“Some Members of the Minority are now calling for me to apologize, and calling for Sen. Klein to apologize for reading it. We will not apologize,” he added.
Pearce drew attention to himself last week when he told tea party members that they were not citizens of the United States.
Hill’s letter to Pearce follows:
Dear Senator Russell Pearce,
I am compelled to write to you about a recent event that occurred to me. I currently work as a substitute teacher in the west valley areas of Phoenix, Glendale, and Peoria. I was called upon to teach history and language arts for 8th grade at a Glendale public school. The number of students I had in each class ranged from 28 to 38 children, which were almost all Hispanic and a couple of Black children. The day started out as usual turning on the television listening and watching the announcements and saying the Pledge of Allegiance. During the Pledge of Allegiance I notice the vast majority of students refusing to stand and say the pledge. I asked the students why they refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance and they responded by saying, ‘we are Mexicans and Americans stole our land’.
The teacher’s instructions were for the students to read a few pages and answer the questions regarding Mark Twain in their history textbook and to finish their final drafts to Senator Steve Gallardo thanking him for his position on Illegal Immigration rights. Their teacher apparently had showed them a video with Senator Steve Gallardo and Lou Dobbs. Most of the students came unprepared for class not possessing paper and pencil. I provided the students with paper and pencils only to have them wade-up the paper and throw it at each other along with their pencils.
The students’ final drafts that I read were basically the same. Most of them stated they were in the country illegally, White Americans are racist, and that they came here for a better life. I asked the class if America adopted Mexico immigration laws would Americans still be consider racist?
That question they could not answer and called me a racist for asking it. I mentioned that my wife and children are Hispanic so how could I be racist? I asked the students to stop speaking Spanish in class because it was impolite to speak a language in front of people who may not speak that language. Their response was that Americans better learn Spanish and their customs because they are taking their land back from us.
When it came to completing the Mark Twain assignment only ten students completed it out of all my classes. Most of the students refused to open the book, tore the pages out of the book, or threw the textbooks at each other. I thought are these the students we are trying to educate with taxpayers money. I have found that substitute teaching in these areas most of the Hispanic students do not want to be educated but rather be gang members and gangsters. They hate America and are determined to reclaim this area for Mexico. If we are able to remove the illegals out of our schools, the class sizes would be reduced and the students who wanted to learn would have a better chance to do so and become productive citizens.
I applaud and support your efforts to stop this invasion into our state and country. When the citizens of a country are forced to speak the invaders language, adopt their customs, and forced to support them, are we not a conquer nation? I do not want to see our state and nation turned into a third world country. Thank you for standing up to this invasion. You may contact me by phone, e-mail, or mail. Thank you, again.
This video is from ABC News, broadcast March 23, 2011.
Updated March 23, 6:00pm EST.