TUSD’s desegregation plan raises public outcry

Gloria, Copeland, a representative of families in the TUSD desegregation case, appeared on the James T. Harris show, on 104.1FM last week to discuss the questionable allocation of desegregation funds by the District and the Special Master employed by the federal court judge overseeing the matter.

Copeland, a long time civil rights leader and education activist, served on the TUSD Governing Board years ago. She told Harris that she has watched the District spend more than $1 billion over the past thirty years. Copeland said the money has been squandered, and said “even when I was a Board member I tried to get this deseg money taken away because to me this is taxation without representation.”

Listen to the interview here.

Copeland told Harris that “with the the Special Master coming in, I really was hopeful that we would have some redress, and in some ways he is worse than the District because he is drawing thousands and thousands of dollars and his friends are drawing thousands and thousands of dollars and if you look at the Post Unitary Plan it is nothing about helping kids with achievement or the overrepresentation in suspension of kids. It is all about adults.”

Copeland was referring to the fact that TUSD was found to be acting in bad faith by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when it overturned the previous Post Unitary Plan approved by Judge Bury. As a result the federal desegregation case was kicked back to Judge Bury to remedy the failings of TUSD through the development of a new Post Unitary Status Plan.

The old Post Unitary Status Plan, which had been rejected by the Ninth Circuit, changed little under Bury’s court appointed Special Master, Willis Hawley, according to Copeland.

Copeland said the new plan is “worse than the ruling we had before. None of the money is going directly into the schools.” Copeland continued, “ and who knows, they put in at least 10 new director positions, not to mention all the little off-shoot positions they are putting in there.”

Hawley’s plan was challenged last week by the United States Department of Justice for the excessive monies that would be directed to Hawley’s “Implementation Committee.”

When Harris asked Copeland where the $1 billion had gone over the years she responded, “Let’s see, we bought trucks, we put $6 million into the Tucson high gym even though the taxpayers passed a bond to build it. We didn’t use the bond money to build the gym, we used deseg money for that. We have done everything but educate our kids.”

Harris asked Copeland about Hawley and the direction he has taken and the recent news that the District is now forcing 9th graders into a class developed by former Mexican American Studies architect Augie Romero. Copeland said that when they (the African-American plaintiff representatives) met with Hawley the “only thing he was concerned about was restoring those classes, and we told him that. If you look at the plan, the only thing he really put in the plan were those Ethnic Studies classes. The rest of the plan mostly came from the other plaintiffs. He just agreed to it.”

Despite the fact that the original Mexican American plaintiff, Maria Mendoza objected to the classes as well as bilingual education, new representatives assigned to the case and attorneys for MALDEF have focused their efforts on the Mexican American Studies classes and the continued use of bilingual education.

Copeland said that when you boil it down, this is Dr, Hawley “making his bones in this “desegregation” arena.” Copeland explained that in the education industry “there are not very many desegregation cases running around anymore, and TUSD is a dinosaur.” In her opinion Hawley is looking to establish a “legacy.”

When Harris questioned whether it would be a good legacy for Hawley, Copeland informed him that many education experts believe “that this is the wave” as Copeland put it, and “that this model is the future model for the country.” One educator asked later how Hawley can create classes specifically designed for different ethnic groups in the name of ending segregation. “It does not pass the “red-face” test.”

Copeland said that when they objected to Hawley’s plan they were told that they we were “antiquated, outdated, and behind the times because this plan was the future.”

Copeland called for an outcry in the community to take the desegregation money away from TUSD. She said, “this would be a much better plan if they didn’t have the deseg money which everyone was salivating over. She explained that the money that funds Hawley’s “employment” plan is provided by local taxpayers. She said that none of that money would be going to the schools. “They have created 11 project specialist jobs. The number of directors and project specialists they have created reminds me of two chicken hawks watching two chickens. And the kids are not getting any benefit from that.”

“The worst part of this ongoing tragedy is that all that money actually creates a incentive for TUSD to continue segregating students and to do nothing about the poor academic performance of students from racial and ethnic minorities,” according to one educator familiar with Copeland’s years long struggle for equity. “Once they end the segregation or raise academic performance the $70 million a year that goes to fund a bucket load of administrators and pet projects of members of the administration and Governing Board would disappear.”

Copeland concluded by telling Harris’s audience that she needed to tell the parents of the community that “Whether you are black, brown, or whatever this District is in crisis and it is in crisis for all kids.”