Despite the passage of legislation that takes aim at TUSD's ethnic-studies program, the district has no intentions to do anything differently.
The bill, which would make it illegal for a school district to have any courses that promote resentment toward a race or class of people, has been forwarded to Gov. Jan Brewer.
Sean Arce, director of the Tucson Unified School District's Mexican-American Studies department, maintains that the district does not do any of the things the bill forbids. Those include having classes that:
• Promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.
• Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
• Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.
"The way it is written, all of the provisions are pretty outlandish," Arce said. "We don't do those things, so in that sense, I do not believe it directly affects us."
But Tom Horne, the state superintendent of public instruction, said the bill has everything to do with TUSD, and he has fought for years to ban the district's ethnic-studies programs.
"Traditionally, the American public school system has brought together students from different backgrounds and taught them to be Americans and to treat each other as individuals, and not on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds," Horne said. "That is consistent with the fundamental American value that we are all individuals, not exemplars of whatever ethnic groups we were born into. Ethnic-studies programs teach the opposite and are designed to promote ethnic chauvinism."
Arce disagrees, saying the TUSD courses are a more inclusive approach to education.
"It demonstrates that when we talk about historical and social experiences, students see themselves in the literature and have a more open outlook on their own culture and the cultures of others," Arce said.
The TUSD courses are open to all students.
Failure to comply with the law could result in the withholding of state aid to the district.
Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at 573-4175 or firstname.lastname@example.org