|NUMBER 313||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||FEBRUARY 2012|
|Mexican-American Studies Standoff|
A controversial Mexican-American Studies (MAS) program in Arizona has finally been suspended a full year after a law banning the courses took effect. The governing board of the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) voted 4-1 to immediately terminate the classes after Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal announced he would retroactively enforce a provision to withhold 10% of the district's state funding if the district did not come into compliance with the new law.
The law in question bans courses that are designed primarily for one ethnic group, advocate ethnic solidarity over treating people as individuals, or promote resentment towards a race or class of people. The MAS program does all three, according to Huppenthal. A U.S. Circuit Court judge ruled against eleven teachers and two students who asked for an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the new law until their lawsuit is settled.
The situation is complicated by the MAS's status as the linchpin of a court-ordered desegregation program. Attorneys with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund are seeking reinstatement of the classes on behalf of several families involved in a 38-year-old desegregation lawsuit against the TUSD. A federal judge wanted to close the case in recent years, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the district had not complied with the plan and still required judicial oversight. (TucsonSentinel.com, 1-10-12; AZCentral.com, 2-7-12)