TUSD Board suspends Mexican American Studies classes

The Tucson Unified School District voted to suspend the Mexican American Studies classes found to violate Arizona state law. The resolution to suspend the classes was offered by Board member Michael Hicks. It passed in a 4-1 vote.

The discussion of the vote began by Dr. Mark Stegeman’s recitation of the district’s history, he concluded, “It is now incumbent on the Board to choose the direction.” He then asked the Board members for comments.

“I have always felt that we are in compliance of the law.” Grijalva then went on a disjointed diatribe somehow connecting Clarence Gideon and separate but equal schools.

While Miguel Cuevas spoke in opposition to the classes he was heckled by the crowd. Despite the fact that he asked the Board to mend the classes, he was still prevented from speaking by the crowd. Isabel Garcia screamed at the Board during his explanation of his vote.

Stegeman did not clear the room, but attempted to bring back order to the room. He asked the audience to remain silent, and said that if they did not remain quiet he would clear the room.

Stegeman offered that the MAS curriculum was originally offered to the Board in 1998, and offered agreement with a member of the public who earlier in the meeting said that the classes should be what they were intended to be, not what they have become. Stegeman advised his fellow Board members that one of the Board members who approved the concept back in 1998, has said that it is not now what it was meant to be. It was for that reason that Dr. Stegeman believes that there is very serious doubt that the classes and the way the board has handled the classes are not in violation of the district’s own policy much less the law.

Stegeman proposed that the Board go back to the 1998 resolution and proceed in developing classes from the original intent.

During the “Call to the Audience” one member of the public told the Board that “poor” Adelita Grijalva, daughter of powerful Congressman Raul Grijalva was unfortunate to be “out numbered on the Board by privileged men.”

At the conclusion of the first round of public comments, Michael Hicks a City of Tucson employee offered, “I am not privileged.”

With the exception of a handful parents and students, everyone who spoke in favor of the classes had an economic or political interest in their continuation.

Roberto “Dr. Cintli” Rodriguez focused his comments the books used in the classes. He encouraged the Board member to read the books saying, “This is an excellent an opportunity to read the books.” His book, The X in LaRaza is used in the classes. In that book, he argues that the Treaty of Hidalgo is missing the “X.” Cintli is best known for his theory that the Aztecs came from Utah and travelled south into Mexico.

The remainder of the speakers were, for the most part, the same people who have come before the Board time, and time again, over the past year making the same arguments throughout the year.

The resolution reads:

The governing board of the Tucson Unified School District hereby resolves:

The Mexican-American Studies (MAS) Department is and shall remain an organizational contributor to TUSD’s commitment to greater academic and social equity for Hispanic Students.

All MAS courses and teaching activities, regardless of the budget line from which they are funded, shall be suspended immediately.

Students currently enrolled in MAS courses shall be transferred to new or existing sections of other courses, so that they do not lose the opportunity to earn credits and to satisfy requirements because of the suspension of the MAS courses.

The MAS department shall not hire, supervise, or evaluate classroom teachers.

The district shall revise its social studies core curriculum to increase its coverage of Mexican-American history and culture, including a balanced presentation of diverse viewpoints on controversial issues. The end result shall be a single common social studies core sequence through which all high school students are exposed to diverse viewpoints.

The district shall study and bring to the board new measures designed to narrow the achievement gaps for traditionally underserved and economically disadvantaged students.

Staff will present a plan to the board for implementation of this resolution by August 2012. Staff shall update the board regularly on the progress of these initiatives and on steps taken to ensure compliance with Arizona statutes and district policy concerning curriculum.

Implementation of this resolution shall be consistent with guidance received from the federal court concerning the district’s desegregation cases.


High School
Social Justice Education Project
American History / Mexican-American Perspectives
Latino Literature (11th and 12th grade)
Chicano Art, beginning and advanced
Middle School
Chicano Literature (7th and 8th grade)
Mathematics / Social Justice (7th and 8th grade)
Science / Social Justice
Chicano Studies (6th to 8th grade)
Elementary School
Chicano Studies (3rd to 5th grade)

Related articles:

TUSD’s Pedicone testifies in “Ethnic Studies” hearing

TUSD’s MAS curriculum for grades K-12 includes Aztec spirituality Part II

America Without Borders: TUSD’s Mexican American Studies elementary lesson

TUSD’s Mexican American Studies appeal hearing concludes

TUSD’s Mexican American Studies educators claim to create resentment, and re-birth