By Sergio Arellano-Oros
The TUSD (Tucson Unified School District) Governing Board voted on the District’s objections to the Proposed Unitary Status Plan/Consent Decree in the Fisher-Mendoza desegregation case created by Special Master Willis Hawley. The Board voted against Stegeman’s proposal to restate the District’s objections to the Mexican American Studies classes as core curriculum.
However, the District claims that their objection to the classes was previously filed and that last night’s action is meaningless.
Outgoing TUSD board members Miguel Cuevas and Alex Sugiyama joined Adelita Grijalva in rejecting Stegeman’s proposed motion to reiterate the objection the district had to the provision in the proposed Unitary Status Plan by Special Master Willis Hawley. The district initially objected to offering the courses for core credit in the draft proposed to the Board. Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks supported Stegeman’s motion.
Stegeman then asked for another vote on the matter so that he could vote against his own motion. He said he “wanted a unified position.” The motion caused the board to return to Executive Session. They then returned after about 10 minutes, and voted unanimously against Stegeman’s proposal.
According to Stegeman, “The motion that was read into the record and passed unanimously included explicit ratification of the District’s previously filed objections to the culturally relevant curriculum mandate. The second motion stated that position explicitly to improve clarity, for reasons which are now apparent, but the Board rejected that second statement as unnecessary and on reconsideration rejected the second motion unanimously. The bottom line is that the Board tonight explicitly supported the District’s previously filed objections to the proposed mandate for culturally relevant curriculum.”
Hawley, the Special Master in the desegregation case, is a strong proponent of Race-Aware Pedagogy and has the proposed order reflects his commitment. The proposed plan calls for the Mexican American Studies classes to become core curriculum.
Hawley, author of An Inconvenient Truth: Race Matters in School Improvement, believes that desegregation programs “too often want to be colorblind when they seek to improve student opportunities to learn.”
Fisher plaintiffs have said the proposed order is a jobs act for the University of Arizona’s graduate students in the departments of Mexican American Studies and Education rather than a plan to reduce the achievement gap between students of color.
During the call to the audience, blogger David Abie Morales told the board, “These classes will be taught again. Everyone can see what the pattern is, I want you to see the pattern. The future for Latino kids is prisons, not college. The federal government had to come in and undo your actions.”
The classes were shut down by the Board because they violated a law which prohibits the segregation of students based on ethnicity.
“We have held you accountable for the blatant disrespect you have shown our community; politicians like Jan Brewer, Tom Horne, and John Huppenthal. Come the new year we will make it our mission to stop you. We will fight for the liberation of our people come next year. We will not be stopped,” said Daniel Montoya. The crowd responded with the Caesar Chavez clap.
The Unitary Status Plan reads, “continue to develop and implement a multicultural curriculum for District courses which integrates racially and ethnically diverse perspectives and experiences. The multicultural curriculum shall provide students with a range of opportunities to conduct research and improve critical thinking and learning skills.”
Critical thinking as applied in the past in TUSD’s Mexican American Studies classes referred to Critical Race Pedagogy. Critical Race Pedagogy focuses on teaching children to view the world through a racial lens. The co-founder of the past MAS classes Augie Romero refers to it as racismizing students.
Augie Romero is now tasked with developing the new curriculum which under the proposed plan will be implemented in every school in the district.
The Board also voted to accept the current budget despite the fact that under the budget few cuts were made and the district according to Stegeman is operating “in the red.” Stegeman and Hicks voted against the budget.
The proposed Unitary Status Plan includes:
Director of Support Services for African American Student Achievement.
The District shall hire or designate an individual who shall coordinate the development and implementation of support and academic intervention services for African American students.
Director of Support Services for Latino Student Achievement
The District shall hire or designate an individual who shall coordinate the development and implementation of support and academic intervention services for Latino students.
Director of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Instruction (“CRPI Director”)
The District shall hire or designate an individual who shall supervise the implementation of courses of instruction that focus on the cultural and historical experiences and perspectives of African American and Latino communities.
Director of Multicultural Curriculum
The District shall hire or designate an individual to supervise the development and integration of multicultural curriculum in courses at all grade levels.
Academic and Behavioral Supports Assessment and Plan
By April 1, 2013, the District shall hire or designate an employee to be the academic and behavioral supports coordinator (“ABSC”), responsible for the review and assessment of the District’s existing academic and behavioral support programs, resources, and practices, including, but not limited to, those currently provided through the District’s student services departments.
By the start of the 2013-2014 school year, the District shall provide all administrators and certificated staff, particularly those who are teaching courses of instruction centered on the experiences and perspectives of African American and/or Latino communities, with training on how to create supportive and inclusive learning environments for African American and Latino students with an emphasis on curriculum, pedagogy and cultural responsiveness.
Family Engagement Coordinator
By April 1, 2013, the District shall hire or designate a District Office employee to be the Family Engagement Coordinator (“FEC”), located at the Family Center or at another reasonable location.
The District shall ensure that all schools provide the necessary training and hire the requisite RPPSCs as described in (IV)(C)(2) to implement Restorative Practices and PBIS by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. All newly-hired RPPSCs and other relevant personnel shall complete the training by the beginning of the fall semester of the academic year subsequent to the academic year during which they were hired.
By July 1, 2013, the District shall hire or designate trainers to assist all administrators and certificated staff to implement Restorative Practices, PBIS and the standards established in the revised GSRR. The trainings shall take place before the commencement of the 2013-2014 school year.
Restorative and Positive Practices
By April 1, 2013, the District shall hire or designate an employee to serve as the District’s restorative and positive practices coordinator (“RPPC”). The RPPC shall be responsible for working with school sites to assist in the ongoing implementation of Restorative Practices and the implementation of PBIS, including: (a) developing model behavioral assessments and interventions; and (b) assisting school sites in developing systems and structures to use data for self-monitoring practices.
Dual Language Programs
The District shall build and expand its Dual Language programs in order to provide more students throughout the District with opportunities to enroll in these programs, including by encouraging new and current certificated staff with dual language certifications to teach in such programs and by focusing recruitment efforts on appropriately certified teachers (see Section (IV)(C)(3)(a)(i)).
KOLD, KGUN, and the Arizona Daily Star reported immediately after the first vote on Stegeman’s proposal that the Board voted to not file objections to the classes.
Hicks said after the vote, “I object to the federal court mandating a core curriculum coarse. It is unprecedented. Many believe that Judge Tashima will rule against the classes, and this was the back door. The public does not support the classes.”
Loretta Hunnicutt contributed to this article.