Guest Opinion by Michael Hicks
Before being elected to serve on the TUSD Governing Board, I publically expressed concerns about TUSD’s Mexican American Studies classes as they were being taught in our schools. I had met with educators from inside and outside the district that I trusted to be honest, unbiased, and not politically motivated.
They discussed their concerns about the classes and the welfare of the students in those classes. It was on that information that I formed my opinion regarding these classes.
In the late 1990’s a Mexican American Studies curriculum proposal was brought to the attention of the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board. Then Board member, Gloria Copeland, rejected the curriculum due to the fact that she found it to be lacking in educational rigor. From what I can tell from records, that was the last and only time, the Board or district leaders meaningfully reviewed the curriculum used in the classes.
The pedagogy used in the classes, to my understanding, has never been reviewed or discussed publically by the TUSD Board. Prior to the appeal of the Arizona Superintendent’s finding that the classes were illegal, few people had ever seen the classrooms materials.
It is because I support the study of all ethnicities, who together have built the United States of America, and that I recognize what Mexican-American contributions have had on our country’s history and the mistakes our country has made, that I proposed in my resolution, “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 Board supported this proposal in a 4-1 vote.
I have to ask what the motivations by people who oppose a resolution which stated, “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,” could be.
I do question the actions of adults in our community that have both an economic and political interest in the TUSD classes, and who ignore all basic educational principles, and exploit our students, just to make a political statement. Whether you agree with the MAS supporters’ position, you must agree that the use of minors is highly questionable.
I have received an over whelming amount of complaints and objections to the use of TUSD students by political operatives. Most people, including myself, object to the use of students and their classrooms by any politicians.
I truly believe that most of the MAS classes did not present an objective or unpartisan review of U.S. and Mexico history or literature. We were elected to the nonpartisan positions on the Governing Board to act in a nonpartisan manner, and to support nonpartisan classrooms in accordance with the laws of the state.
Michael Hicks is a member of the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org