Tucson’s Ethnic Studies Courses Don’t Violate Ban, Arizona Chief Rules

By Corey Mitchell — March 04, 2015 1 min read
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The Tucson, Ariz., school district will not lose millions of dollars in state funding over its ethnic studies courses because the state’s new school superintendent determined that they don’t violate a state ban.

The district risked losing between $14 and $15 million in state funding over courses that former Arizona public schools Superintendent John Huppenthal said violated a 2010 ban on ethnic studies.

Huppenthal issued a report just before leaving office in January that cited an introductory course on hip-hop and lyrics from the rock band Rage Against the Machine as violations, the Associated Press reports.

Huppenthal’s successor, Diane Douglas, said that the courses themselves didn’t violate state law. Instead, it’s the way they’re taught that was of concern, she said.

A state law passed in 2010 prohibits districts from teaching classes that promote “ethnic solidarity,” but a 2013 federal racial desegregation order requires the Tucson district to teach ethnic studies in all 10 of its high schools.

Douglas and Tucson schools Superintendent H.T. Sanchez agreed to an action plan in January to ensure that the district’s ethnic studies curricula were in accordance with statute in individual classrooms. TUSD had a 60-day period to correct the violations or be subject to a 10 percent reduction in state funds as required by statute.

“It is in the best interest of the district’s students to move forward without denying any state aid,” Douglas said in a statement.

The Arizona education department will continue monitoring the Tucson courses through the end of the school year with announced and unannounced visits to schools, the Arizona Republic reports.

“I appreciate the State Superintendent’s willingness to work with our district throughout this process,” Sanchez said in a statement. “Together we were able to avoid a costly loss of funding and I remain committed to improving culturally relevant classroom instruction so that in the future monitoring will no longer be required.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.