Tucson Unified board approves racial balance plan that includes minority culture classes

2012-12-11T21:23:00Z Tucson Unified board approves racial balance plan that includes minority culture classesBy Alexis Huicochea ARIZONA DAILY STAR Arizona Daily Star
December 11, 2012 9:23 pm  • 

The TUSD Governing Board unanimously approved a plan formulated to bring racial balance to the district’s schools Tuesday.

One key provision in the plan, which was voted on separately, is a requirement to offer culturally relevant courses for core literature and social studies credit. The courses will reflect the history, experiences and culture of African-American and Mexican-American communities. This vote was split 3-2.

The Tucson Unified School District administration initially objected to offering the courses for core credit based on past criticism from the state for offering Mexican American Studies classes. At one the district point stood to lose millions in state funding if it continued to offer them.

Board members Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks were in line with the administrators, objecting to offering the courses for core credit. However, Governing Board President Miguel Cuevas and members Adelita Grijalva and Alex Sugiyama did not support the objection and the plan was able to move forward with the inclusion of the courses.

Sylvia Campoy, a longtime supporter of the Mexican American Studies courses and a representative for the Hispanic plaintiffs in the desegregation case, called the inclusion of the cultural curriculum a “nice early holiday present.”

“Essentially what it means is the curriculum will be developed,” Campoy said. “It may not be identical to what was in place under (Mexican American Studies), but it may look very similar and it will meet core curriculum standards.”

Other supporters of the now defunct Mexican American Studies program cheered and thanked the Governing Board for what it perceives to be the return of the courses.

The approved plan — dubbed the Unitary Status Plan — aims to increase racial and ethnic diversity in schools, promote integration in magnet schools and programs, improve the diversity of administrators, improve the academic achievement of black and Latino students and reduce disparities in handling student discipline.

The final version of the plan was filed Monday, although the parties have until Friday to file further objections to be taken under consideration by U.S. District Judge David Bury.

There are various expenses associated with the plan, including hiring for a number of positions, generating a series of reports, the expansion of programs and training among other things.

The cost to implement the plan has yet to be determined, but it is expected to come from the district’s desegregation fund.

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