Public invited to review TUSD culturally relevant courses

The Tucson Unified School District is planning to offer culturally relevant courses in the fall in at least three of the District’s high schools. Before they can make the classes available they must be reviewed and approved by the Board according to Arizona statute.

This week, in an effort to appear to include the public in the rushed process, the District released a statement inviting “the community to examine and comment on the proposed curriculum” until July 8. The District claims that the public’s comments will be “reviewed and considered in finalizing the content before it is submitted to the Governing Board for approval.”

However, it is clear from emails first made public on the James T. Harris radio show, between the programs’ director Auggie Romero and his curriculum developers, that what the public sees is not what the students will get. In an email dated February 23, 2013, curriculum developer Penelope Buckely wrote Romero:

“Hi Auggie. I added some of your ideas to the latest revision and would love to hear what you suggest. I feel protective of it so can I ask you to send me suggestions before putting them in? I have tried to tone down some of your rhetoric so this passes inspection. Teachers can add their voice easily to the curriculum and I think that being able to spice it up or tone it down will be essential for selling it to teachers.”

Just last month the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) advised the District that the newly proposed curriculum, submitted by the District, did not appear to meet state standards and had the potential to violate state law, which prohibits the promotion of resentment in students.

The District’s old Mexican American Studies curriculum, which employed a pedagogy that relied almost entirely on enticing students with food and other favors, Romero’s critical race rhetoric, and his “Barrio Pedagogy” he developed in graduate school at the University of Arizona.

The ADE also expressed concern that it appeared the new curriculum did not align with the Common Core standards. They noted that the standards appeared to be simply cut and pasted into Romero’s curriculum.

In an email from Romero to Buckley, dated later on February 28, the concern that standards were an afterthought appears to be correct. Romero writes:

“Penny, This look great! I will insert the Common Core. Thanks a bunch!”

With or without standards, the District is determined to offer the classes this coming August.

While the District’s deputy superintendent, Maria Menconi advised the ADE in an email dated January 18, 2013, that “given the need to do this very well, I think it will be wise not to rush it,” this week, she told the Arizona Daily Star that she feels “good about this process. I feel it was a little rushed, but I believe once it gets to the point where we have it in front of the board for approval that it will be a good and fair curriculum.”

Menconi told the Star that the problem with the MAS classes because the District didn’t have “copies of a written curriculum.” According to the Star Menconi said, “The contrast is, now we do and they can see whether what is being taught is in alignment with standards. But at that time, they had observations and information from people in the community, but no documents.”

In the appeal filed by the District last year, Judge Lewis Kowal reviewed over 7000 pieces of evidence including curriculum, lesson plans, student work product, as well as parent and staff testimony before making his determination that the classes violated state law.

The District intends to offer the classes at only three high schools this year, if they are approved by the Board. Contrary to Menconi’s claims, school insiders say there has not been a demand for the classes.

As a matter of fact, MAS supporters were asked to attend last night’s School Board meeting to join a demand that the classes be offered immediately in every school. Only one proponent, Sylvia Campoy, addressed the subject of the classes. President of the Governing Board, Adeltia Grijalva, urged others to come forward, but no one took her up on the offer.

Campoy, a representative in the District’s desegregation case, told the Board that it was unfair that the ADE was allowed to review the classes, and claimed that other classes did not undergo the same scrutiny.

However, it was federal Judge Bury, in the District’s desegregation case, who ordered that the classes be reviewed to, meet state standards, and be in compliance with state law.

A review of Romero’s emails, obtained through a Request For Information by the Arizona Daily Independent, shows that Romero’s focus has been primarily on paying the curriculum developers and “advisors” from the University of Arizona.

TUSD’s MAS classes had been over the years a cash cow for staff at the University of Arizona. It was often criticized as a “jobs program” for former TUSD member, father of Adelita Grijalva, and current congressman, Raul Grijalva’s acolytes and cronies.

The Governing Board is expected to adopt the curriculum at the July 9 Board meeting.

It is unclear how the District will fill those classes since students registered for this year’s classes last year, and only Cholla High School offered the classes as an option to students.

Last month, Adeltia Grijalva pushed through a new policy which will allow the classes to be offered to as few as six students per class. Other classes must have a minimum of at least 15 students to be offered during a semester.

Also, at last night’s meeting the Governing Board voted 4 -1 to spend $300,000 on a marketing to improve the district’s public image. Gordley Group, won the contract to “work with the District’s inside marketing person, who doesn’t have the time to negotiate media buys,” according to Superintendent Pedicone.

To view the Culturally Relevant African American English curriculum click here.

To view the Culturally Relevant Mexican American English curriculum click here.

To share your comments with the District, click here.

Related articles:

For Bill Ayers and Auggie Romero unhappy children will transform our world

TUSD’s “Ethnics Studies” defense in appeal: Part 1

10 Comments on "Public invited to review TUSD culturally relevant courses"

  1. Tired Taxpayer | June 26, 2013 at 6:09 am |

    This appears to be the same product Romero is trying to jam through that was declared to be in violation of Arizona law. How stupid does TUSD think we are insulting us by trying the same techniques as congress. We have to pass it to see what it is.

    Romero doesn’t belong near a classroom, perhaps he should start his own charter school. He could make a lot of money or not while indoctrinating those children whose parents approve of keeping them ill prepared to function in society and earn a good living.

    • Wayne B (rain) | June 26, 2013 at 8:00 am |

      There was an Aztlan Academy charter school for several years but it totally failed and went out of business.

  2. He is a one man wrecking crew. Angie is evil.

  3. If only TUSD could send me HS graduates that could read and write. I might consider hiring them. But right now, if TUSD is on your resume,….you’re out.

    $300,000 worth of spin won’t change perception.


  4. Colt Cassidy | June 26, 2013 at 8:14 am |

    Culturally relevant? How about TUSD getting into EDUCATIONALLY relevant?

    More misrepresentation from wannabe indoctrinators!

  5. Did you get the COMMON CORE reference. We’ve got to get the common core agenda out of our schools or get kids out of our schools. Where’s a politician that is even talking about it?

  6. In the 80s it was Outcome Based Education, OBE, which included students teaching students.

    How do you like the outcome so far?

    It was promoted by the NEA…Teachers Union.

  7. momzpink13 | June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am |

    Unfortunately, TUSD is a lost cause. Parents who love their children should get them out of TUSD as soon as they can and either home school them or find a better school elsewhere.

  8. Don’t know much about history
    Don’t know much biology
    Don’t know much about a science book
    Don’t know much about the french I took

    But I do know that I love you
    And I know that if you love me too
    What a wonderful world this would be

    Don’t know much about geography
    Don’t know much trigonometry
    Don’t know much about algebra
    Don’t know what a slide rule is for

    But I do know that one and one is two
    And if this one could be with you
    What a wonderful world this would be

    Now I don’t claim to be an “A” student
    But I’m trying to be
    So maybe by being an “A” student baby
    I can win your love for me

    -Sam Cooke

    Sadly, TUSD is only teaching Liberal, Liberal Arts!

  9. The Truth Hurts | June 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

    I recommend that no one waste their time to “review” the course. TUSD is just going through the motions. They will do whatever they want to, anyway, as they usually do.

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