Precious Knowledge

Precious Knowledge

  • BY Ari Luis Palos & Eren Isabel McGinnis | IN Education
    Premiered May 17, 2012

About the Film

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 100 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. MORE

As the nation turns its focus toward a wave of anti-immigration legislation in Arizona, the issue of ethnic chauvinism has become a double-edged weapon in a simmering battle. 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 student leaders fight to save their classes. The students are able to mobilize rapidly with texts, Facebook, optimism, and a megaphone.

Lawmakers and politicians a mount a public relations campaign to discredit the passionate students, claiming that Paulo Freire’s textbook The Pedagogy of the Oppressed teaches victimization and sedition. Officials 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.

The Filmmakers

Ari Luis Palos and Eren Isabel McGinnis

Ari Luis Palos and Eren Isabel McGinnis of Dos Vatos Productions began working together in the green tobacco fields of Kentucky during the production ofPOV’s Tobacco Blues. While living in Oaxaca, México, they selected the work of virtuoso guitarists and chanteuse Lila Downs for the soundtrack of their Global Voices and True Stories PBS series hit show Beyond the Border. Developing their continued interest in documenting civil rights battles, they recorded the voices of some of the finest opera singers in the world while creating The Spirituals.


Film Credits

Directed by
Ari Luis Palos

Produced by
Eren Isabel McGinnis

Jacob Bricca

Naïm Amor

Associate Editor
Lisa Molomot

Additional Editing
Bill Kersey

Lauren Meschter

Sound Editor
Otto Helmuth

Sound Mix
Rob Fritts

Assistant Editors
Kelsey Self
Sarah Schaffer
Mischa Cantu
Amanda Blohm

Additional Camera
Marcus de Leon
Arturo Rodríguez

Title Animation
John W. Madden Jr.

Production Assistants
Natasha Isaacson
Brian Oki
Bret Seeger
Nicholas Watts
Bo BreitReed
Sarah Talbot-Haynes
Cody Young
Logan Grimes
Clarice Bales

Archival Photos
Chicano Movement photos courtesy of Oscar Castillo
The Jack Sheaffer Photograph Collection, University of Arizona, Special Collections
San Antonio Light Collection, The UT Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio, Gift of the Hearst Corporation
Tucson High Badger Society

Archival Footage Courtesy of
Arizona Capitol Television
Chicano Moratorium: A Question of Freedom, by Thomas Myrdahl
HORIZON, Eight/KAET, Phoenix

Additional Footage
CBS News
KGUN-TV Tucson
KQTH-Radio Tucson
KTVK-TV Phoenix
KVOA-TV Tucson

Mariachi Rayos del Sol of Tucson High
Recorded at Waterworks Studios by Jim Waters

“Sader (Drum Cadence)”
Written by THS Drumline
Arranged by Christopher Constantine

“March 100 Cadence”
Written by THS Drumline
Arranged by Christopher Constantine

“She Got Me Like Whoa”
The Campaign Promo Disc
by BreadMan (P) Scottfree

“Poetry in Motion”
Written and Performed by Naxo Vejar

“Mal Representado”
by Progreso

“El Cascabel”
Arranged by Alberto Ranjel
Performed by Mariachi Rayos del Sol

Native HipHop Compositions by
Tolteka & Izkalli

Curtis Acosta
Rudy Acuña
Sean Arce
María Federico Brummer
Nolan Cabrera
Marcela Cardenas
Alanna Castro
José Gonzalez
Pricila Grado
Soledad Grado
Mariah Harvey
Richard Martinez
Abel Morado
Augustine Romero
Sarah Sher
Crystal Terriquez
Selene Terriquez
Jesus Nacho Vejar
Luis Valdez
Vicky Westover

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Precious Knowledge is a co-production of Dos Vatos Productions, and the
Independent Television Service (ITVS), produced in association with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB)
and Arizona Public Media, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting (CPB).

Precious Knowledge was produced by Dos Vatos Productions, Inc.
which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2011, Dos Vatos Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Do you think that teaching the history of specific ethnicities promotes a sense among students of their own ethnic superiority? Do you think it is important to dedicate class time to the history of minority groups?
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Do you think that teaching the history of specific ethnicities promotes a sense among students of their own ethnic superiority? Do you think it is important to dedicate class time to the history of minority groups?