by David Safier
No-longer-superintendent John Huppenthal's parting shot across TUSD's bow has been much in the news lately, including a few posts here at the Range. Hupp, not content with successfully dismantling the TUSD's Mexican American Studies program, has been itching to do the same to the district's current Culturally Relevant Curriculum, a similar (but not identical) program which was created to fulfill the dictates of the federal desegregation orders for the district. He's demanded that the district send him piles of documents about the program and has arranged scheduled and unscheduled visits to the classrooms. I'm guessing if he had beat Diane Douglas in the primary, he would have brought this up during his reelection campaign like he did four years ago — nothing like running against La Raza to rile up the base — but since he lost the primary, he kept quiet until he had one foot out the door.
But MAS, though dismantled, isn't dead. A lawsuit is scheduled to be heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on January 12 contesting HB 2281, the law that was created to outlaw Mexican American Studies.
The lawsuit argues that HB 2281 should be thrown out because it's too vague. What does it mean that a course "promote[s] the overthrow of the United States government," or "promote[s] resentment toward a race or class of people"? Those charges can be hurled at any number of texts used in history, political science and literature classes, or discussions led by teachers who want students to think critically about this country's past and present, not just curriculum used in the Mexican American and African American studies courses. And what, exactly, does it mean to say a class "advocate[s] ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals"? That's definitely in the eye, and the bias, of the beholder.
Back to Hupp's move against TUSD's Culturally Relevant Curriculum. Tim Steller does a good job of dissecting the silliness contained in Huppenthal's indictment. Steller ends his column by saying Huppenthal is "a man who could really use a few semesters taking ethnic studies classes." Well put. Hupp's online alter egos, Thucydides and Falcon 9 (which he used to comment on The Range as well as other blogs across the state), should come along as well. Those guys have some serious race-related issues.
Will new Ed Supe Diane Douglas follow through on Hupp's action, meaning Tucson will be going through reruns of the MAS controversy between now and March? No telling what she's planning to do. She may not want to jump into this fight with both feet the minute she sets foot in her new office. Stay tuned.