State gives its official approval to TUSD's culturally relevant classes

2013-10-17T00:00:00Z State gives its official approval to TUSD's culturally relevant classesBy Alexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

It’s official.

TUSD’s culturally relevant courses are in good legal standing, a formal report from the Arizona Department of Education says.

The report was drafted after Oct. 1 visits to Cholla and Pueblo high schools to observe the curriculum that was put in place of the now-defunct Mexican American Studies program.

“At this time we do not find any specific teaching practice or instructional material that would cause the Department to take further action to enforce (Arizona law),” wrote Jennifer Johnson, ADE’s deputy superintendent for policy and programs.

In the report, Johnson mostly praised the work observed at Cholla, but questioned the discussion of illegal immigration in a U.S. history class taught from the African-American perspective because of the lack of a connection between African-American history and illegal immigration.

An evaluation of lessons being taught at Pueblo was less glowing, saying the alignment to Arizona’s college and career standards — also known as common core — appeared “insufficient.”

It was also noted that at Pueblo, the ADE officials observed three “questionable” posters in the senior English class and in the social studies classroom, saying “references to levels of oppression and liberation were problematic, particularly in light of the written feedback we have provided in our previous curriculum review.”

It goes on to say that the posters raise concerns as they reflect past practices that caused the state to find TUSD in violation of an Arizona law that prohibits classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals, and are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.

However, the department did not require the schools to make any changes in response to the observations.

The Arizona Department of Education will continue to observe the progress of the culturally relevant courses. In the future, the ADE noted it would like the opportunity to review lesson plans and to interview teachers regarding the curriculum development process.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@azstarnet.com or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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