Monday, January 12, 2015

9th Circuit Hears Arguments in TUSD Students' Suit Challenging Law That Outlawed Mexican American Studies

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 11:31 AM

Tucson Unified School District students Maya Arce, Korina Lopez and Nicolas Dominguez are in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today to tell the judge why A.R.S § 15-112 is a violation of the First Amendment, the right to equal protection and simply too damn vague to stipulate what is right and what is wrong with TUSD's classes from a Mexican American perspective.

The lawsuit challenging ex-Gov. Jan Brewer's 2010 statute, which prohibits courses or classes that "promote the overthrow of the United States government, promotes resentment toward a race or class of people, are designed for pupils of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treatment of pupils as individuals," was originally filed by a group of teachers and students after the law caused TUSD to eliminate its Mexican American studies program and ban books highlighting Mexican American history and ideologies.

At the time, the state threatened to cut TUSD's funding if the district didn't comply with getting rid of the program, so the board had no choice but to scratch it and resurrect it in the form of its culturally relevant curriculum. (The content of that curriculum is protected by the Desegregation and Unitary Status Plan).

TUSD is once again under "we will cut your budget even more than we already have" threats over allegations that some of its English and U.S. history from a Mexican American and African American perspective classes violate the law. If they don't fix this by March, the district could lose 10 percent of monthly state aid.

If the 9th Circuit rules A.R.S § 15-112 is unconstitutional—which now that the students are the primary voice in the suit, it gives challengers of the law a glimpse of hope—then the accusations would be useless. But, TUSD has now less than 60 days to comply with whatever Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas orders. She's going after the way the culturally relevant content is "implemented in the classroom," meaning she wants full control of how teachers deliver their material.

As TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez put it at a press conference last week, "until that case is done, the law is the law." And it's looking like the 9th Circuit case won't see a resolution for a few months.

You can hear the arguments of today's hearing here starting tomorrow afternoon.

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