Tucson’s Mexican-American Studies Program: Why It Was Started, Why Republicans Killed It
Follow the links and read the complete articles for a fuller picture.
The Mexican-American Studies program was started in part to “help bridge the achievement gap for Hispanic students”.
In 2009, the order was lifted and the district began operating under a post-unitary plan that established a good-faith commitment to the future operation of the district.
In 2011, that decision was reversed when a judge determined that the district had not acted in good-faith compliance with the desegregation decree. At that time, the federal court resumed oversight.
As the Tucson Unified School District moves forward with the suspension of Mexican American Studies courses, it still has another legal hurdle to overcome.
The district formulated a plan that includes the expansion of the Mexican American Studies program as part of its court-ordered requirements to bring its schools into racial balance.[Emphasis added]
Any pertinent modifications to the plan must be approved by the federal court. But as TUSD worked Wednesday to transfer students from the dismantled Mexican American Studies program into traditional classes, no federal court notification had occurred.
TUSD is putting information together for U.S. District Judge David Bury, who is overseeing the case. They expect to present the information and the circumstances surrounding the decision to the judge in the next week or so, said TUSD legal counsel Martha Durkin.
However, some people thought it encouraged students to feel resentful.
The man who co-wrote the law that the program violated, also made the ruling that it was in violation of the law he wrote.
Today, Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal announced his determination that the Tucson Unified School District (TUDS) is not in compliance with A.R.S. §15-112. This ruling comes after the Arizona Department of Education investigation and review of TUSD’s Mexican American Studies Department’s classroom materials and instructional content.
The above link has the text of the law.
John Huppenthal wants to end Ethnic Studies at universities also. He has vowed to “Stop La Raza.”
Photo from Tucson Citizen
A pair of editorials from the Arizona Republic have insight into the reasons the program was killed.
That is the clear-cut intent of an administrative judge’s ruling last week that the Mexican-American-studies program at the Tucson Unified School District violated House Bill 2281.
The law was co-written by then-state Sen. John Huppenthal, now the state public-schools superintendent. The bill was the brainchild of state Attorney General Tom Horne. Horne and Huppenthal crafted HB 2281 to kill the 14-year-old TUSD program. It was shepherded through the Legislature by recently ousted Senate President Russell Pearce. Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law. [Emphasis added.]
Threatened with the loss of $15 million in state funding if it did not sack its Mexican-American-studies program, the TUSD governing board voted to end it and immediately transfer hundreds of students to so-called traditional social-studies classes midsemester.
In other words, a program that taught high-school students about the history and culture of Mexican-Americans — the people with whom I share a distinct part of my heritage — has been outlawed, some say “criminalized.”
How did this happen?
To be blunt: A relatively small contingent of powerful, bigoted public officials have worked relentlessly to make it happen.
Why did it happen?
It happened because the state’s Latino population has nearly doubled in the past 20 years and the right wing is angry and afraid that it is helpless to stop it. In one generation, Latinos will be 50 percent of the state’s population and, short of declaring martial law and deporting everyone with brown skin, there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent that.
What a proud moment.
If the goal was to demonstrate that the dominant culture is out to get Latinos, then the crusade launched by Attorney General Tom Horne when he was state superintendent of public instruction was a rousing success.
Horne and current schools chief John Huppenthal, another rising star in Arizona’s Republican firmament, gave Latinos reason to worry about how Republicans use power.
The fight began in 2006, after labor organizer Delores Huerta told an assembly of Tucson High Magnet School students that “Republicans hate Latinos.”[Emphasis added.] Horne sent his then-deputy, Margaret Dugan, to set them straight. Students were unspeakably rude to Dugan.
A stern lecture would have been appropriate. Maybe a program of politeness studies. Horne went full-bore after Mexican-American studies.
The ethnic-studies programs were started in response to lawsuits claiming the district did not serve the needs of Black and Latino students. Only programs aimed at Latinos were targeted by Horne.
Horne, Huppenthal, Brewer and the state’s other Republicans made sure the lesson stuck. Today’s students won’t forget seeing the GOP power structure come down on their classrooms.
Congratulations to those who crushed ethnic studies. You won. You also alienated the fastest-growing segment of the population.
I think this may have been another reason Huppenthal and Horne wanted to change how Tucson’s school district operates:
My other Pages about the Tucson Unified School District are tagged “TUSD”. Romantic Heretic posted one here. My comment there includes a link to a recent article with a video showing one of the teachers talking about the book ban.