Published December 12, 2012
An Arizona school district has unanimously approved a plan that will reinstate culturally relevant courses, like Mexican American studies, in classrooms nearly a year after the same board voted to ban them.
In a win for Latino and Black advocacy groups, the Tucson Unified School District's (TUSD) governing board voted 3-2 for to reinstate core literature and social studies courses that reflect the history and culture of the African-American and Mexican American communities.
The approved so-called Unitary Status Plan aims to increase racially and ethnically integrated schools, improve magnet schools and programs to promote integration and educational quality and enhance the racial and ethnic diversity of TUSD's administrators, teachers and staff, among other goals.
The cost of the program is still unknown, but is expected to come from the district's desegregation fund, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
The plan was proposed in early November by groups representing black and Latino plaintiffs, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
"Essentially what it means is the curriculum will be developed," Sylvia Campoy, a representative for the Hispanic plaintiffs in the case, told the Arizona Daily Star. "It may not be identical to what was in place under (Mexican American Studies), but it may look very similar and it will meet core curriculum standards."
On January 10, the TUSD’s governing board voted 4 to 1 to abandon its controversial Mexican American Studies courses in order to bring the district into compliance with a new state law forbidding classes that advocate the overthrow of the United States, promote racial resentment or emphasize students’ ethnicity rather than their individuality.
The law, HB 2281, specifically targeted the district’s Mexican American studies program, which supporters accused of politicizing students and breeding ethnic resentment. The district removed seven book titles on Mexican American studies from its classrooms.
Arizona's Superintendent of Schools led the fight against the curricula in TUSD, the biggest school district in southern Arizona with a 60 percent Latino student population, because he said it teaches students to resent Anglos.
In an interview with Fox News Latino earlier this year, Superintendent John Huppenthal said the university system that educated public school teachers is to blame and he expressed interest in taking the curriculum ban to the university level.
“I think that’s where this toxic thing starts from, the universities,” Huppenthal said.
“To me, the pervasive problem was the lack of balance going on in these classes," he explained.
Parties against the plan approved on Wednesday have until Friday to file further objections to the U.S. District Court.
Contains reporting by EFE.
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