Last night, the clock ticked down to the deadline. The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Governing Board had a choice between standing with eleven teachers in the district who plan to continue teaching Mexican American studies classes in defiance of the ban under HB2281, OR siding with the state and enforcing the controversial and possibly unconstitutional law.
The TUSD chose the latter.
The teachers have chosen to fight the ethnic studies ban full-on. Their lawsuit may now include the very board they were hoping to ally with:
“I opposed HB 2281, but it is now the law of Arizona, and it is the board’s duty and sworn responsibility to uphold the law,” [Governing Board President Mark] Stegeman said. “The law incorporates a procedure to appeal the state superintendent’s ruling, but TUSD cannot simply ignore the law.”
The law was written by then Arizona state school superintendent Tom Horne, who was recently elected Arizona’s state attorney general. Horne’s successor in the school superintendent position shares his anti-Latino stance. The kinds of classes in jeopardy are part of an overall desegregation order and, the teachers argue, are designed to present information to Latinos and non-Latinos together.
According to The Arizona Republic, the Mexican-American studies program includes high school class work about historical and contemporary Mexican-American contributions, social justice and stereotypes. Students may examine U.S. history from a Chicano perspective.
The program was first adopted as part of a desegregation order, which stemmed from a 1974 federal lawsuit by an African-American couple alleging racial bias. The Tucson school district started an African-American studies program and added Mexican-American studies in 1997.
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