David Safier, a blogger at Blog for Arizona, posted a letter Mark Stegeman (President of the Governing Board, Tucson Unified School District), sent out yesterday. It raises more questions than it answers about the Mexican American Studies (MAS) program.
To get around the fact that three of the books that were removed actually had approval for use, Stegeman now says that the curriculum itself was never approved. That may, in fact, be the case, but I hope that Stegeman is applying that curriculum approval process in an even-handed manner. Has the curriculum for all their programs been through the curriculum approval process? All along, students have been noting that it is only the MAS program that is being scrutinized. If I walked into the TUSD offices, would I be able to see a document that approved the Native American Studies program? What about the curriculum at the college prep school?
That said, there is research data that demonstrates that students who took MAS classes are succeeding in school (see data on page 44). Their attendance is better. Their grades are better. And they graduate at higher rates than students who have not taken the classes. The independent audit of the program recommended it continue.
With research that demonstrates the success of the program, it seems to me that an educational leader would say "hey, lets fast track the approval of the curriculum and make it more widely available at all the schools so more students can start doing better in school."
Instead, TUSD voted to end the program rather than fight the political machine in Arizona. As he says in his letter, they're going to revise the social studies core curriculum, making sure that Mexican American history and culture will be covered. This time, he says, they "want to get it right."
Based on everything I've learned about him, I'm doubtful that they will ever "get it right." At the end of his letter, he says developing this core curriculum will be a long process and that he does not expect it to happen any time soon. Again, with research based evidence that demonstrates the success of the program, it seems to me that it would be smart to use the MAS curriculum as the core.
MARK STEGEMAN'S LETTER:
Occupied America: A History of Chicanos - Rodolfo Acuña
Rethinking Columbus: The next 500 Years - Bill Bigelow
Critical Race Theory - Richard Delgado
Pedagogy of the Oppressed - Paulo Freire
Message to AZTLAN - Rodolfo Gonzales
500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures - Elizabeth Martinez (ed.)
Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement - Arturo Rosales
I am not aware of any other school district in Arizona which has approved these books for use in instruction. If anyone knows of such approvals, then I would be interested to hear about them.
FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF AICL'S COVERAGE, CLICK ON:
AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books