This story comes to us from NBC Latino.
The Tucson Unified Schools Board voted to end the Mexican-American studies program that pitted Arizona officials against teachers and students because of a threatened reduction in state funding. “I think it’s heartbreaking — it’s a slap in the face to the community,” says Rene Martinez, a teacher of the course at Mansfeld Middle School in Arizona. “People have fought so hard to establish these courses. With the number one goal being to improve Latino achievement. That’s what has been lost in this battle.”
Students in the courses will now be dispersed among other classes, according to school board member Miguel Cuevas, who was one of the people who voted to suspend the course.
“It’s my impression that the superintendent has begun to transition the courses to either new or existing classes. For example if it’s a Latino history course, it will be transitioned to a normal American history course,” he says.
John Huppenthal, the state superintendent of public instruction, said that the program was in violation of the law in June and an administrative law agreed on December 27. A separate federal case that seeks to deem the law unconstitutional is still pending.
Richard Martinez, the lawyer representing teachers in the federal case, says that the course may still be reborn.
“I anticipate there will be two or three distinct efforts against the governing board,” he says. “I suspect there may very well be a lawsuit against the school district.”
Cuevas says that the board made the best of a difficult situation.
“I think the approach and the manner that we took was respectful to the community and it was an approach that we needed to take since this district could not weather a 10 percent reduction of funds.”
Richard Martinez believes that students will not just be reassigned to new classes but that they will also be separated.
“Some if not all classes will have students dispersed as well,” he says.
“The district, though not saying so publicly, is trying to disperse the students so they don’t take group actions like walkouts.”
Adrian Carrasquillo is a reporter with NBC Latino.
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