Screening, forum on ethnic studies controversy in public schools March 29

A UW-Milwaukee screening of the film “Precious Knowledge,” a documentary that follows Arizona’s battle over ethnic studies, will include a discussion with filmmaker Eren Isabella McGinnis. The screening takes place on Thursday, March 29, at 7 p.m. in the Arts Center Lecture Hall, room 120, 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd. There will be a reception preceding the screening in the lobby of the Mainstage Theatre in the Art Building, also at 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd.

Also planned is a daytime event with the filmmaker and three classes from Milwaukee’s ALAS (Advanced Language & Academic Studies) High School at Arts@Large, 908 S. 5th St

To make “Precious Knowledge,” the filmmakers spent an entire year in the classroom filming Tucson’s ethnic studies classes as state lawmakers were attempting to eliminate the program. During this time, students became informed, engaged and active in their communities.

“Educators and concerned students from across the U.S. are confronting the challenge to ethnic studies,” says Portia Cobb, associate professor of film. “Locally, members of Teacher Activist Group Milwaukee and Rethinking Schools are mobilizing to combat the outlawing of ethnic studies or other diversity curricula in the public schools.”

Cobb adds that efforts are under way to include high school activist students concerned about this issue. “For example, the UWM student organization Y.E.S (Youth Empowered in the Struggle) is working with student activists at ALAS High School in Milwaukee to bring them to the screening.”

She describes Y.E.S. and another organization, Voces de la Frontera, as “local groups/advocates for the right to an ethnic studies education.”

Cobb is director of UWM’s Community Media Project, the presenting organization.

More information on the ethnic studies issue in Arizona, including curriculum materials, is available at

UWM co-funders and supporters include Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Studies (LACUSL); Film Studies; Department of Africology; Center for International Education (CIE); Peck School of the Arts Dean’s Office; Cultures and Communities; Office of Global Education and Inclusion; Roberto Hernández Center; and Mark Weinberg, adjunct professor of theatre. Additional UWM supporters are Alvaro Saar Rios, lecturer, Theatre Department, and Michelle Lopez-Rios, assistant professor, theatre.

Community co-funders and supporters include Educators Network for Social Justice and Arts@Large.