Multicultural Stew

Ric Orozco uses lowriders and a controversial take on Hispanic history to excite his art students. The Isaac School District wonders whether he's teaching art, or culture or either.

But Mr. O's class turned the tide, just a little bit, Barbara Luna's mother says. Instead of causing trouble and distracting other students, problem kids began actually paying attention.

In neighborhoods like those of the Isaac School District, inspiring that sort of interest is a huge accomplishment, an accomplishment that may matter more than whether little Joel or Valerie learns to make pinch-pots this year.

"They need him there, you know. If out of 30 kids, he can get six interested in art, rather than being out there lookin for trouble . . ." Gavino Luna says.

Then he turns to his daughter and suggests, "Show your stationery."
Barbara, never one for a good report card, retrieves her creations. They are sheets of white paper, detailed in various designs. There are ornamental vines and fleur-de-lis and straight lines for writing. She created the designs not for class, but for herself.

Never, her proud parents say, had she been so sure of her abilities before.

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