The Tucson Unified School District hopes to redefine integration to facilitate their commitment to race-based education and schools which do not have racial balance. The district is currently a minority/majority district, with 70 percent minority students in attendance.
District Director of Desegregation, Sam Brown, argued that while the “court views our actions, they view it through integration,” the District should not focus on attempting to achieve racial balance. “How can you meaningfully desegregate a school that is 80 percent minority students?” asked the District’s Superintendent H.T. Sanchez. He argued that the District does not have excellent schools which will draw students to drive through all the traffic lights to get to them.
The decision to redefine integration comes as a result of the District’s commitment to maintain the failed magnet program. The Board voted to keep the program intact despite the finding by the court appointed Special Master in the federal desegregation case. The District will now attempt to convince the court that keeping students in the failed magnet program is far better for them then trying to increase the racial balance of classrooms.
During the Call to the Audience portion of the meeting, a parent, Betts Putnam Hidalgo, spoke out against the District’s commitment to segregation. “Let’s not throw out desegregation. If we are not committed to desegregation, why did we fight for Brown versus Board of Education?” Hidalgo discussed the fact that some parents, who have Hispanic children, are now changing their classified ethnicity as white in order to save the segregated schools by making them appear to be integrated. “Please, please,” Hidalgo implored, “let us be more ethical than that.”
Also addressing the Board during the Call to the Audience was Lillian Fox, a former TUSD teacher and staunch child advocate, who told the Board the District’s administration “has moved a tremendous amount of money from the schools to the Central Office. Nobody at the schools got a raise but people at 1010 (Central Office) did. No new books, no new materials, yet you have 45 directors. No one here advocates for the schools, the schools are being starved. We have lost school staff but none of the departments have.”
Fox questioned the fact that the administration has decided to spend $300,000 for an online curriculum for Agave, an alternative school. “It is a tiny, tiny school,” she said.
Fox concluded her statements with a question, “You are going to send a whole bunch of people to San Jose, have you ever heard of video conferencing?” The administration intends to take Board members or a team to a conference in San Jose to attend Bulldog.
High school administrator and Grijalva crony, Steve Holmes, presented to the Board a request by a group of teachers who requested books which had caused a controversy last year.
According to District insiders, the effort by the teachers was organized in order to bring the books back into the classrooms in order to promote the myth that the books were banned in the past. According to the ADE, it did not have an issue with the materials, but with the way the materials were used to indoctrinate students.
Elizabeth Martinez, of Roskruge Middle School, requested 500 Years of Chicano History for her students grades 6-8 (pictured above). Josephine Rincon requested Occupied America for her Pueblo High School American History students. Joanna Goldberg of Rincon High School requested Message to Aztlan for her English students. Veronica Encinias requested Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement for her Rincon High School 9th Grade English students. Penny Buckley, who was instrumental in the development of the District’s new Culturally Relevant curriculum, requested Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years for her Sahuaro High School 11th Grade English class. Sally Rusk, a plaintiff in the failed federal court case brought by the former Mexican American Studies teachers, requested Critical Race Theory for her Pueblo High School 11th Grade American History class, and Pedagogy of the Oppressed for her 10th and 11th Grade World History and American History classes.
The books were approved in a 3-2 vote. Both Stegeman and Hicks said that they would not approve the request because the staff had failed to follow the requirements for public review provided for in Arizona statute.
Superintendent Huppenthal, who has been very careful to honor the local control invested in the TUSD Governing Board said, “Given the prior misuse of the approved texts in TUSD classrooms, the Arizona Department of Education is concerned whether the governing board’s actions indicate an attempt to return to practices found to have violated Arizona’s statutes in 2011. It is the Department’s intent to monitor how such materials are used as well as all classroom instruction and to take appropriate corrective action if the district is once again violating the law.”
The slides below and above were provided by TUSD in response to a Request for Information about the curriculum for 500 Years of Chicano History: