By Katherine Leal Unmuth
Latino Ed Beat
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Tucson Unified School District to offer “culturally relevant” courses that reflect the lives and history of Latino and black students. The ruling is part of the district’s desegregation plan, reports the Arizona Daily Star.
The decision is significant because the district was previously forced to eliminate its Mexican American Studies program because it violated Arizona state law banning ethnic studies.
However, in January, the TUSD board by a 3-2 vote approved offering the courses for credit beginning next year.
The courses are a part of the Unitary Status Plan, which the judge approved.
“The plan focuses on eliminating vestiges of past discrimination to the extent practicable in the areas of discipline, student assignment, school operations–which includes faculty, staff, transportation, extracurricular activities and facilities–and the quality of education being offered to minority students,” the Daily Star reports.
The newspaper reported that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, the former state superintendent of public instruction who led opposition to the MAS program and determined it was unlawful, was not supportive of the latest decision. He called it “erroneous.”
However, leaders of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund have previously stressed that the coursework could play a role in increasing graduation rates and closing achievement gaps.