Mexican-American studies will return to classrooms in Tucson’s secondary schools in the fall as part of the district’s new plan to achieve greater racial balance in schools. A federal judge approved the plan this month.
But the battle over teaching ethnic studies in the 53,000-student district may still not be settled, even though U.S. District Judge David Bury has given the green light to the district’s unitary-status plan, which is meant to bring an end to the decades-long desegregation effort in the Arizona city. A key part of that plan is to offer “culturally relevant” courses that focus on the history, experience, and culture of blacks and Latinos.
The district disbanded the popular Mexican-American studies program a year ago after state officials said the courses violated a state law that forbids public schools from using curriculum designed for a particular ethnic group, advocates ethnic solidarity, or promotes resentment toward a race or group of people.
Overall, the unitary-status plan for Tucson—to be put in place over the next four years—focuses on reducing discrimination in student assignment, discipline, and the quality of education offered.
A version of this article appeared in the February 20, 2013 edition of Education Week as Federal Court Requires Tucson’s Ethnic Studies