For those in favor of Mexican-American studies in the Tucson Unified School District [TUSD] the good news is, based on a new court order, officials are bringing back the program; however, the controversial issue is far from over.
The Mexican-American studies were born out of a federal desegregation case regarding equal education to all students. In 2010, the Arizona legislature passed the anti-ethnic studies law HB-2811 aimed at Mexican-American studies, which state officials deemed promoted racism against non-Hispanic whites, supported ethnic solidarity and endorsed the overthrow of the government.
Fast-forward to earlier this year, a federal court ordered the district to resume its Mexican-American studies with high school classes, while also adding African-American studies.
While this should be the end of story on ethnic studies controversy, there still remains consternation over the Mexican-American studies program, said TUSD superintendent H.T. Sanchez.
“We want a successful course that meets our federal desegregation court order and doesn’t violate the state law,” he said. “It’s a very narrow path.”
TUSD officials sought guidance from the state. Officials still called the classes unacceptable.
Mexican-American Studies standards still unknown
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal, who admitted the history of racial injustice should be taught, said, “Do you cover those injustices in a way in which we say these are profound things that we should be aware of and we have to work in this country to make this country a better place? Or do you use those injustices to create racial division, and do you use those injustices to create hatred?”
Librotraficante founder Tony Diaz, who for the last three years sought monetary and book donations to keep Mexican-American culture alive in Arizona, told VOXXI, “Ironically, the original Mexican American curriculum, which delivered a 90-plus percent success rate, was prohibited under HB-2811 for ‘promoting the overthrow of the government.’
“It seems to me that State Superintendent Huppenthal and the far right officials of Arizona, who are defying the Department of Justice [DOJ] order to implement culturally relevant courses, are the ones ‘promoting the overthrow of the government.’ They are going against the DOJ and mocking the federal government. It is a shame that an entire generation of students will be denied the edification that the Mexican-American studies classes provided.”
TUSD officials are still working out the curriculum for the ethnic studies focusing on Mexican-American culture and history, including which books will be used.
School is scheduled to begin in a few weeks. The problem is the state hasn’t announced the standards for the Mexican-American studies program.
“I asked, ‘Can you give me a copy of a document that has as a good example incorporated those core standards?’” said TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez. “And one doesn’t exist.”
Added Diaz, “It is criminal that another fall semester will arrive and another generation of our young will be denied courses relevant to their culture and courses that epitomize the best in critical thinking.”
This article originally appeared on VOXXI under the title "Mexican American Studies In Tucson Are Back, Kind Of."